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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Invisible Wall, 13 Feb. 2007
This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful book. It works on at least four levels: it is a gripping autobiographical account of growing up in a northern town in the early 1900s; it is an intensely moving love story; it hammers home the stupidity of the way we have allowed meaningless religious differences between us to affect the way we treat each other; and it makes us realise that, in this regard at least, we have learned nothing in the last 100 years. I could not put it down ... it is the best read I've had in years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, Heart warming, True-Life Family Story, 14 April 2007
By 
Scots Lass (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Hardcover)
Harry Bernstein was born in 1910 and this book tells his story of growing up in an industrial town in the North of England. The youngest child, Harry has two sisters, academic Lily and waspish Rose, two brothers, Saul and Harry as well as a loving mother - and a sullen drunk for a father.

The prominent issue in this book is the fact that the street in which Harry and his family reside is divided along religeous lines - Jews on one side, Christians on the other - with next to no interaction between the two sides, despite the similarities of their lives and even their work. Although the grinding poverty in which the family struggle to survive is detailed thoroughly, the individuals in the family are prominent to the story, none more that Lily - whose chance to go to Grammar school on a scholarship hinges on her mother persauding her oaf of a husband to sign a consent form. Sister Rose is discontented with life and sees the hand to mouth existence of her family for what it is - no amount of bravado from her mother will cause Rose to think fondly of her life. Harry follows in the wake of his brothers as they encounter playground battles with the Christian children and day to day insults from adults who should have known better.

There is humour in the book all the same. Harry is a completely innocent go-between for an invalid girl and her would-be beau (the notes you can pass in a bottle of ginger beer!) but love across the religeous divide is more than either side can accept, and, although the first World War causes the women on both sides to mourn their losses together, the barriers cannot be completely torn down.

I am no fan of "misery memoirs" as a style of book but this tale is so gripping, tragic and yet courageous that it is almost impossible to put down. I have even written to the author via the publisher to say thanks for a great read - and please hurry along with the next one!

The Invisible Wall will break your heart, make you smile - and stay with you long after you read the final sentence.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping tale of religious divide, 11 April 2009
By 
B. K (Glasgow Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Paperback)
I have just finished reading this book "The Invisible Wall" and found it fascinating.The story strengthens as it progresses. I recognise some of the characters from personal experiences. The book depicts very well the atmoshphere of religious divide and suspicion on either side of the invisible wall between Christians and Jews, brought about in part by the poverty endemic during and after the first world war. The atmosphere in the street in which they live really brings the characters to life.
I have just started the second book, "The Dream" by the same author and hope it gives me as much pleasure as did the first.

BK Glasgow
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A time and a place frozen, 1 July 2010
This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Paperback)
This is so fresh.
It feels as though it was written days after the events took place, by the four year old boy in the book, full of energy and enthusiasm and wonderment at all of the developments going on around him, not 90 years later, by an old man for whom time must surely have muted the excitement and drama of youth.

Harry Bernstein's great achievement here, is that whilst it is a wonderful autobiography of turn of the century industrial England, what really stands out are his family, friends and neighbours and their interaction and bonds with one another. It is a book that you read to find out what happened next to brothers, sisters and neighbours- with the first world war, revolution, religious intolerance and poverty all taking a back seat, becoming mere events that direct the paths of the lives of the characters, but never overshadowing the strings of friendship and loyalty that hold the street where Harry lives together
A lovely book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Having read it now I can say that I wasn't disappointed. Harry grew up in an impoverished family and ..., 29 Jun. 2014
By 
Julie Vanberkel (United kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Paperback)
I was fascinated firstly by the age of Harry Bernstein when he wrote this memoir. This intrigued me. Having read it now I can say that I wasn't disappointed. Harry grew up in an impoverished family and at time of great sadness and acute anxiety, yet his spirit shines through it all, and his story is told simply and without any bitterness or mawkishness.A must read! I have already passed it on to my sister to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Past, 6 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Kindle Edition)
I was totally gripped by this book. It gave an insight into an era of English history that I had never really given much thought to: a sad reflection on me I fear. The clarity of description made me feel as if I knew these people and lived amongst them - Mr Bernstein's ability to bring you into his story is quite extraordinary and if it hasn't been done/thought of, has the makings of a very good film or, at the very least, a television docudrama. Thank you Mr Bernstein for bringing the past alive in a compassionate, sometimes very amusing and sad way but also in an unsentimental [mushy] way: it was such a pleasure to read and I was sorry to reach the end. I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending this book and am looking forward to reading The Dream, the second in what I believe is to be a trilogy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating memoir, 13 May 2007
By 
D. Cameron (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Hardcover)
I have read a lot of memoirs in the last few years and i would rate this book as one of the best i have read. It is the story of the first 12 years of Harry Bernstein's life in Stockport in the early part of the last century and covers huge themes, such as poverty, deprivation, prejudice and social stigmas but in a really accessible and ultimately uplifting style, even though some elements of the story are tragic in the true sense of the word. I could not put it down and would have read it in one sitting if i could. The last few chapters took my breath away and it achieved a rare thing, in that by the end of it, i really cared about what eventually happened to the characters. I am pleased to say that Mr Bernstein is working on the sequel and hopefully i will find out! i cannot rate this highly enough. A gem.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Book, 7 April 2013
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This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Kindle Edition)
I was born and still live in Stockport and have been researching my family tree for several years. I'm familiar with the area described in the book and many of my ancestors lived in and around King Street and Edgeley. The book was recommended to me by a contact on a family history website who has a similar background and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Once started I couldn't put it down as I got really engrossed with the characters. I'm now part way through "The Dream", as I want to know what happens to the family, and have already purchased The Golden Willow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Harry Bernstein's books are fabulous, 27 Sept. 2010
By 
S. D. J. Morton "Shazza Morton" (Leverstock Green, Hertfordshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Hardcover)
This is the first book written by Harry Bernstein and its fabulous! wonderful story that will bring tears to your eyes. It was so good I have now read his second book entitled "The Dream". There is a third book in the series called "Under the Golden Willow Tree" which tells the story of Harry's marriage to Ruby and how in love they were. He is a wonderful writer and these books have been passed around my family as we all loved them. I would not hesitate to recommend you to read all of Harry Bernstein's fabulous true life stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brillianty written ..., 29 Oct. 2013
By 
LMASK6 (Greater Manchester UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Invisible Wall (Kindle Edition)
Was lent this book and also the 2nd book (The Dream). My daughter then bought me a Kindle and I downloaded the same two books to enable me to return the paperbacks to the person who lent them to me.

I was taken immediately with the way Harry Bernstein writes and was hooked with the story. Real life, real people! Am looking forward to reading the second book in due course.

Such a shame that the author died before finishing his third book.

Highly recommended 5*
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The Invisible Wall
The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein
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