Ten Green Bottles is one of the most powerful, emotional, fascinating and beautifully written books I have ever read. Where has this author been?
The story begins in the early 1920s in Vienna where a five year old Jewish girl, called Nini, begins to experience what it is to be the youngest of three sisters. It is written in Nini's voice and throughout the book you seem to live every moment of her life as if you were in her skin. You laugh, cry, feel and experience everthing that happens to her as if it were happening to you, yet the book is non-fiction.
The story tells of her life in a growing family and the hardships of her mother in raising her children and carrying on their business after her father's death. As Nini grows into her teenage years, your senses are filled with the excitement of Vienna and the thrill of skiing in the mountains nearby. Then the Nazis come and everything changes.
As Jews are now considered vermin, they must flee the city or they will surely die. With the help of a gentile lawyer they are able to leave Vienna for Shanghai. On arriving in this no-man's land with almost no money, they find themselves in the middle of another war between China and Japan. Living in squalor and trying to survive, their life is made even more miserable. Japan, an ally of Germany, forces them and about 20,000 other Jews into a small ghetto with over 100,000 of the poorest Chinese. The story tells of their life and the life of the Jewish community as they try to make it through to the end of the war under the most deplorable conditions imaginable. They are eventually liberated by the Americans and stay until the Communist takeover in the late 1940s when they leave. The story ends with their exceptionally well written arrival in the white winter of Canada where they do not have to fear anymore.
I read a lot and to me this book was a literary masterpiece. I also learned about a very interesting part of the Holocaust that I had not known.
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