Read Hedwig and Berti by Frieda Arkin Online


"My new favorite novel. Characters and storytelling like this belong in the Fiction Hall of Fame, in the wing reserved for wry and sly masterpieces." ---Elinor Lipman, author of The Inn at Lake Devine and The Pursuit of Alice ThriftHedwig and Berti is a saga of the totally unlikely marriage of a grandly Teutonic woman, Hedwig Kessler and her diminutive cousin Berti, two u"My new favorite novel. Characters and storytelling like this belong in the Fiction Hall of Fame, in the wing reserved for wry and sly masterpieces." ---Elinor Lipman, author of The Inn at Lake Devine and The Pursuit of Alice ThriftHedwig and Berti is a saga of the totally unlikely marriage of a grandly Teutonic woman, Hedwig Kessler and her diminutive cousin Berti, two upperclass German Jews forced to leave their homeland during the rise of the Nazis. They flee to London, then to New York City and from there, finally, to a university town in Kansas. In London, Hedwig gives birth to a daughter whose broodingly dark construction and immense genius for the piano point back in time to the tragedy of her bloodline. This is a story of prejudice taken to extremes, both within the domain of a severely class-conscious German-Jewish family, and beyond it. The characters are subtle, finely honed and told with grace and unexpected humor. Like Penelope Fitzgerald, Frieda Arkin possesses a rare gift for combining love, wit, and dark realism in the reactions and behavior of her characters in the several cultures they are forced to adapt to. "Second acts this good are rare…A deliciously vinegary second novel."---The New York Times Book Review"Arkin depicts these damaged characters...with unflinching honesty and rueful insight...A bravura encore worth the wait."---Kirkus Reviews (starred review)...

Title : Hedwig and Berti
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312333560
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Hedwig and Berti Reviews

  • Sammy
    2019-05-18 08:15

    Um... this book was just kind of depressing. And not in the good way some books are depressing. The whole time I was reading it I just had this puzzled expression on my face. The whole premise behind this book was just really bizzare... especially the main relationship of the book.The timeline was confusing, and the book jumped and lagged a lot. It was interesting though... despite the fact it too me so long to finish the book, it was actually a very fast read. I would be on one page then immediately be on another ten pages later.The book was all right... but it's not one of those books you can't put down. I put it down. A lot.

  • Daisy
    2019-04-27 10:18

    "And this," Hedwig Kessler says when Harry's closed the door, "is Dagobert. He is happening to be my husband." p. 8A clever, curious book. Lovely writing. 3.92 stars.

  • Robin
    2019-04-30 05:15

    The story begins comically -- I thought that maybe this was going to be an absurdist look at prejudice, an immigration story. I don't know what it was. It was a slow-moving, tortured tale in which everyone is some kind of bigot, and there are consequences that carry out for generations. Unfortunately, most of the action has already happened before the book begins, and there is very little revelation or emotion, or depth the to the story that gets told. Is Arkin trying to tell us that everyone's an asshole, including the aristocratic German Jews? It almost seems like she's trying to tell the reader that the Holocaust wasn't such an aberration because the German Jews in her story were willing to murder someone they thought beneath them, too. Ick. I wish I knew more of why she would choose to write this book & what she intends us to get out of it.

  • Deb
    2019-05-17 05:19

    Such conflict recently over how to rate the books I read. So...for about 2/3 + of this quirky little story, set against the back drop of the pain of WWII, I was finding interest in the lives of the characters. At this point a mystery was finally brought out to the light and I was ready to say the book had moved from moderately good to better...and then the ending. I was devastated by the ending, strangely all of the main characters ended in a way I was unhappy with despite perhaps happiness for the first time for one, maybe two, of them. I was sorry that only a side character was left standing clear for me as a likable person. This is most certainly a deeply observant work, with sharply defined characters and unsparing observations, which took me in emotionally...I just wouldn't say wonderfully.

  • Katie Grainger
    2019-04-27 12:02

    I was disappointed with this story, the ideas behind the book appealed to me as it had an interesting history aspect. I did however feel abit let down. The characters were bizarre rather than being believable and the principle relationship just didn't really work. I enjoyed the first part of the book much more while Harry was the principle narrator. He somehow gave the first section of the book meaning, when he was killed off it left me feeling abit hollow and the important outsider narration disappeared as a consequence. This was an OK read but the further I got through it the more I wanted the book to end.

  • Robin Nicholas
    2019-04-27 08:29

    I really liked this quirky odd book. A lot of the reviews comment on the depressing nature of this book. I did not see it that way. This is the story of a husband and wife (actually first cousins) who escape Nazi Germany and end up on the doorstep of a distant relative in London. I loved the unique writing style...very stilted and matter of fact. This is one of those books that while I liked it, I am not sure if others would. It seems like it is one of those books that you either love or hate.

  • Suzy
    2019-05-12 11:04

    Very quirky characters, it is the story of a very unlikely marriage between cousins who are upper class Jews who have to flee Germany. Hedwig is anxious to get back home to Berlin straight after the war.She and Berti have a strange relationship and a strange daughter who is a genius at the piano. Hedwig is an extremely class conscious German-Jew from a very wealthy family, who now must endure a different kind of life.

  • Paulette
    2019-05-16 09:27

    I saw this book on the "return" desk and thought it looked interesting and also in the back of my mind I thought someone, somewhere had mentioned that there was a book with the name Hedwig (same as Harry Potter character).8/13/08 - Finally finished this book. Whew!!! Interesting sometimes. Slow. Sad. I couldn't connect with any of the characters. It's about a couple of German Jews from a VERY disfunctional family. Combined with WWII, it's not very pleasant.

  • Lisette
    2019-05-15 06:29

    This was a strange little book but I enjoyed it very much. The characters are strange but I bet you can think of people you know that fit their personalities. Even though the story was depressing the writing style was witty and made you laugh ("Bertie was cooked without spices" )Most people in my book club either did not like this book or couldn't decide one way or the other. Like I said it is a strange little book.

  • Alvin
    2019-04-28 08:08

    I don't normally enjoy realist novels about people in depressing circumstances, but I ended up really liking this. The characters are all damaged by their dysfunctional, bourgeois German Jewish family and the horrors of history, and are forced to claw whatever small satisfaction out of life that they can. What makes the book rewarding is it's laser sharp insight into human psychology.

  • Terry
    2019-05-11 05:18

    This was a hard book for me to like but I did like it. The plot did not compel me to turn the pages but the characters for all their quirkiness and prickliness did command my attention. I would have hoped for better outcomes in their lives but each did manage to find some fulfillment even as history altered their lives in ways they could not ultimately recover from.

  • Tanya
    2019-05-09 06:01

    I enjoyed this book and found it easy to read but I did not identify or particularly like any of the characters in the story. The daughter was evil and deplorable, the mother cold and unforgiving and the father was a non entity. The uncle was the only character I found remotely personable or likable. Not a book I would rate highly or recommend easily.

  • Dorothy
    2019-04-27 09:28

    I fell in love with Arkin, a little bit, after I read this novel. It's funny but also tender, which is a combination I like a lot. None of the characters in the novel (they're members of a family) show any signs of being able to stand each other's company at all, and the scene where Gerda dies in a pile of warm laundry is completely wonderful. Funny as hell, and sad.

  • Steva
    2019-05-22 07:20

    Why do stories about the holocaust always start out cute and funny, and then end up horribly depressing? Okay, so I get the "depressing ending" bit, but why reel me in with the humor first? Okay, okay I suppose I get that, too.

  • Jean Cable
    2019-04-29 12:13

    This was a depressing book. The characters were not very likable.

  • Candace
    2019-05-23 06:25

    I loved the characters in this book, especially Hedwig. The author came to our book club and that was wonderful. She is still writing, and not willing to divulge her forthcoming ideas!

  • Tabitha
    2019-05-04 13:26

    An interesting plot with strange and amusing characters, yet, I just couldn't get into the author's stilted writing style.

  • Marian
    2019-05-08 08:07

    I really enjoyed this charming little book with unusual and cleverly drawn characters, but the ending was so, so abrupt! Still, worth reading.

  • Jill Cordry
    2019-05-21 08:31

    This novel stays with, i.e. is really difficult to forget or get over. I found it creepy, but well worth the read.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-21 10:29

    I was pulled into this book so easily, but kept feeling as though it could have been so much more. Still and all, well written and good stories within the story.

  • Brandy
    2019-05-16 10:19

    This has been on my to-read list for years. Now that I've finally read it.. meh. I wanted something more from it. More depth of character, maybe, more interesting plot?

  • Dina Marie Gangale
    2019-05-23 08:09

    Kind of depressing...quick read.

  • Barry
    2019-05-02 06:02

    A wonderful yarn, full of breathtaking unexpected twists and turns and three characters (Hedwig, Berti and Gerda) that you will never forget.