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Away: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Amy Bloom
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Panoramic in scope, Away is the epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, a dangerous innocent, an accidental heroine. When her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land. When word comes that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on an odyssey that takes her from the world of the Yiddish theater on New York’s Lower East Side, to Seattle’s Jazz District, and up to Alaska, along the fabled Telegraph Trail toward Siberia. All of the qualities readers love in Amy Bloom’s work–her humor and wit, her elegant and irreverent language, her unflinching understanding of passion and the human heart–come together in the embrace of this brilliant novel, which is at once heartbreaking, romantic, and completely unforgettable.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Life is no party for Lillian Leyb, the 22-year-old Jewish immigrant protagonist of Bloom's outstanding fifth novel: her husband and parents were killed in a Russian pogrom, and the same violent episode separated her from her three-year-old daughter, Sophie. Arriving in New York in 1924, Lillian dreams of Sophie, and after five weeks in America, barely speaking English, she outmaneuvers a line of applicants for a seamstress job at the Goldfadn Yiddish Theatre, where she becomes the mistress of both handsome lead actor Meyer Burstein and his very connected father, Reuben. Her only friend in New York, tailor/actor/playwright Yaakov Shimmelman, gives her a thesaurus and coaches her on American culture. In a last, loving, gesture, Yaakov secures Lillian passage out of New York to begin her quest to find Sophie. The journey—through Chicago by train, into Seattle's African-American underworld and across the Alaskan wilderness—elevates Bloom's novel from familiar immigrant chronicle to sweeping saga of endurance and rebirth. Encompassing prison, prostitution and poetry, Yiddish humor and Yukon settings, Bloom's tale offers linguistic twists, startling imagery, sharp wit and a compelling vision of the past. Bloom has created an extraordinary range of characters, settings and emotions. Absolutely stunning. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Inspired by the legend of Lillian Alling, a Russian immigrant who decided to walk home to Siberia in the 1920s, Amy Bloom has taken the few details known to history and fleshed them out into a brilliant, enthralling novel. Critics universally lauded Bloom's lovely prose, wit, incisive characterizations, and keen grasp of the complexities of the human heart. Her careful balance of tragedy and humor, and irony and compassion, sidesteps sentimentality, and the novel retains a Dickensian flair without ever becoming maudlin. (Only USA Today faulted its epic-like narrative.) Critics also praised Bloom's narrative trick of revealing her characters' futures as they leave the plot. Hailed as a "literary triumph" by the New York Times, "it is also a classic page-turner, one that delivers a relentlessly good read."

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 334 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,551 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful beginning and end, problematic middle September 16, 2007
I loved the beginning of this book. I loved its faint Yiddish inflections, the bravery of its main character, the world Amy Bloom places her in, the sadness driving her. But then my heart started to sink as I realized she was going to keep Lillian going, on a Homeric journey, meeting one character after another like an odyssey, never staying in one place very long, rushing too quickly forward, and giving each new character an aria about their lost love. While reading the first 50 pages, I wrote emails to friends and family telling everyone to rush to buy this...then wrote back to say never mind. Then she won me back in the last 40 pages or so. There were things I really admired in the writing and things that didn't work at all -- I'm surprised an editor didn't give Bloom better advice, particularly about the sexual element that so oddly (and off-puttingly, often) appears in every experience, and also about the way she runs off with characters instead of sticking to the point. Every character is different, but each has such similar stories to tell that I found them uninteresting (and unreal) very quickly. It's hard to tell, too, if Bloom, meant to leave the inflection behind once Lillian leaves New York, or if the writer simply lost her way. It seemed like a glaring mistake to me (if Lillian has learned the English language on her travels, if that were made clear, maybe the loss of the inflected narration would have made more sense). Still, I found chunks of this to be a page-turner and moving. But to link these adventures together into a novel doesn't hide the fact that Bloom really is a short story writer. All in all, this doesn't satisfy as a novel, though I have high regard for a lot in it.
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114 of 129 people found the following review helpful
By Doug
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Rather than review, I'm going to make my observations:

1. The book transported me into the life and brain of a 22 year old Russian girl who had to flee Russia to America in the 1920s. She has lived through the slaughter of her family and arrives in NYC without anything but the dress she's wearing. The author does a great job of putting you into the girl's shoes and you feel numb, desperate, your survival instincts kick in and you become ready to do what it takes to survive. Some of these things aren't what you learned to do in church, and yet they must be done.

2. The book is full of fringe characters who live and barely survive in the time. She works as a seamstress, lives with cousins, sleeps on a couch, the floor, out in the wilderness, on a cot in jail, etc., over half the book. She meets prostitutes, men running away from the law, robbers, becomes friends with a gay man, spends time in a woman's correctional facility, etc. Overall, I felt that all of these characters seemed real for the time and you really are experiencing the world of the 1920s both in NYC and Alaska.

3. There were very frank and straight forward sexual experiences along the way. The feeling that it creates is that sex was almost less complicated and straight forward then than it is now. But we're a young, inexperienced girl from Russia who is desperate, has been married and likes men. So she is very submissive and doesn't worry too much about it when approached by men she likes. I've read that these scenes were a negative by some of the other reviewers. I would say that if you can handle an R rated movie, you can handle this and that for me, it added a human dimension that made you love and understand the main character, Lillian, very well.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ~~~If you're thinking about reading this book... May 23, 2010
...consider the following:

1) You're ok reading books that make a serious effort to historically locate human sexuality.

2) You recognize sex and desire are integral parts of our humanity and take many forms. This means you are comfortable reading scenes involving gay sex, sex as currency, and sex as love.

3) You're ok reading books that are not obviously character or plot driven. The best comparisons I can think of here are Jeanette Winterson or Tony Morrison. Bloom's language is not difficult but I want to warn you that the your particular reading psychology (taste) may work against you here. It is not surprising to me that so many readers had a difficult time trying to identify with Lillian. This book isn't about Lillian; Lillian is a vessel for a more general commentary the author is trying to make. I thought this was really obvious. Many readers are used to a more traditional book where the author does overtime to make the inner world of the protagonist alive so that the reader more easily identifies with the protagonist. Bloom doesn't really do anything like that. Lillian is what you make of her. Any conclusions or interpretations you take from her story are your entirely your own. Bloom makes no effort to push you any direction with regards to Lillian. Many readers find this disconcerting b/c they keep trying to force their expectations of how the book is supposed to read onto the text and become frustrated/disappointed that Lillian remains mysterious or that the book goes somewhere else. This can be observed in many other reviews for the book here.

4) You are ok with discontinuity in setting. Each location in the book is entirely new, independent of the previous ones, and contains its own set of characters.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars It's a Downer!
Very dark with emphasis on hardship, misery and abuse
Published 10 days ago by Claudia Ryan
2.0 out of 5 stars Meh
The pace was too brisk the characters flat. I wanted more. More of every situation more from the characters.
Published 23 days ago by michele b gutierrez
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well written.
Published 1 month ago by danielle pennelltori
4.0 out of 5 stars AWAY is an astonishing love story.
It begins with the horrors of a pogrom in Russia in which Lillian, our heroine, loses her family, including her small daughter, Sophie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Strange ending... Not one of my favorites
Published 2 months ago by Regina Zielinski
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading but not for the faint-hearted
Excellent reading but not for the faint-hearted. It helps to be Jewish, though it doesn't metter. I love immigrant novels. This was
a different kind. Very compelling.
Published 2 months ago by Stella Starkwater
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
All over the place
Published 3 months ago by Morris Brooks
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but unbelievable narrative. The characters were well ...
Interesting, but unbelievable narrative.
The characters were well drawn, flawed, and people I wish I could meet. Read more
Published 3 months ago by mary ann
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
made me very sad.
Published 3 months ago by Kristine S. Hansbery
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved parts of it and other parts were tiresome
(cd audio book) The narration was terrific -- I loved all the accents - they were spot on. The story? Terrific at the beginning, until the "Seattle story. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Eden Elizabeth
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More About the Author

AMY BLOOM is the author of two novels and two collections of short stories, one a nominee for the National Book Award and the other a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate, and Salon, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. Her first book of nonfiction, Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude, is an exploration of the varieties of gender. A practicing psychotherapist, she lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale University. Multiple Audie®; Award winner Barbara Rosenblat has been named a "Voice of the Twentieth Century" by AudioFile magazine. The New York Times writes,"Watch Ms. Rosenblat work...and you get the sense that even an Oscar winner might not be able to pull this off." She created the role of "Mrs. Medlock" in the Tony®; Award-winning Broadway musical The Secret Garden.

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Amy Bloom's new novel, Away
I'll take a stab at explaining the last paragraph. After telling us what has happened to Sophie, and then about Lillian and John's life together, and growing old together, Bloom returns us to the present: Lillian is, finally, ready to give up. She looks for a place to lie down and, presumably,... Read More
Dec 28, 2007 by Shulamit |  See all 14 posts
Based on real life
I'd give it 3 stars, at best. Interesting to see the wiki entry. Amy Bloom acknowledges the book about Lillian Alling at the end.
Dec 25, 2007 by debrahart |  See all 2 posts
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