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Comment: Ex-library book. The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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Safe Passage: The Remarkable True Story of Two Sisters Who Rescued Jews from the Nazis Paperback – November 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Under the pseudonym Mary Burchell, UK novelist Cook (1904-1986) wrote more than 100 novels in addition to this enchanting memoir, first published in 1950 as We Followed Our Stars. This reprint of the updated 1976 version features a new foreword by scholar Anne Sebba, and the charming, harrowing tale of the Cook sisters, Ida and Louise, whose holiday from their suburban London home to the United States and Western Europe turns from a music lover's grand tour into an international mission to save Jews from the Nazis. Passionate music fans, the Cook sisters' first foray into the world brought them into contact not just with operatic luminaries but the harsh realities of a world on the brink. With ingenuity, boundless optimism and the will to risk their lives, the Cook sisters smuggle jewels to fund the release of Jews about to be shipped to concentration camps and set up networks of satellite families for displaced Jews in safe nations. Pocked with heart-stopping moments-close calls and reunited families rank high-this lovingly written true story shines a light through one of humanity's darkest chapters.
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* The memoir of Ida Cook, author of 120 books over five decades, was first published overseas in 1950 and is now available for the first time in the U.S. Ida and her sister, Louise, created forged documents and traveled the country to raise money. They bought a London flat for refugees to live in, sewed their own clothes, and traveled third class, working to save as many people as possible from Hitler’s death camps. Cook writes that opera shored up their belief “that there was another world to which we would be able to return one day.” She viewed  the music as something that counterbalanced their unhappiness at the cruelty they were forced to witness. In the foreword, Anne Sebba writes that the real power of the book is the transformative nature of music, especially the high drama of operatic music. The two spinsters knew that in the presence of their prima donna heroines, they could assume different personae themselves. After World War II, the sisters settled back into the family home in London. In 1965 they were declared Righteous Among the Nations  in recognition of their work in rescuing Jews from Germany and Austria during the Nazi regime. A testament to fortitude and courage. --George Cohen
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373892012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373892013
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By George Dansker on October 9, 2009
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I love this book. I am savoring every word, every phrase. Ida Cook and her sister Louise were truly saints of our time and the book, as written by Ida, is a gem.

The detail, the humanity, the amazing rescue work that they did --- everything is recounted in a lovely writing style.

I truly recommend this book.
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This book combines a significant bit of history with wonderful writing. It deserves a wide readership, but for those of us who have a specific interest in opera, especially opera's past (e.g., Ponselle, Farrar, Pinza, etc.) and/or were born before rock"n" roll (i.e., before 1951) it is a must read.

The story is gritty; the prose is lilting; and the pathos is heartrending. If this book doesn't bring tears of joy and sadness to your eyes then courage, and poignance, and tragedy, and beauty, and the dogged spirit of human determination and goodness don't exist in this world.

Approximately one-third of the book documents, in perfectly pitched prose, the role that the Cook sisters played in rescuing refugees, mostly Jews, from Europe prior to the outbreak of war in 1939. [In 1965 the two opera-loving Brits were awarded the honor of Righteous Among the Nations from the Yad Vashem for the lives they saved.] It seems almost an understatement to say, paraphrasing Albert Camus, that in the midst of winter these two sisters were an invincible summer.
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Cook's language and turns of phrases are generous and succinct at once. She creates vivid images. I am savoring this book.
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I found it touching and in also overwhelming. I am a holocaust survivor from Vienna. I was 9 years old and we had reached Brussels. My mother received a visa as a housekeeper but 50 pounds were needed for me to go with her. Someone at the British Consulate paid so I could go. We arrived in England 3 weeks before the war started. The book brought bad but also wonderful memories back.The book was so immediate for me. They both are real true heroines and Christians. I wish I had known them.
If you wish to have a true picture of that time and place read this outstanding book.
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What an inspiration these two lovely ladies are. A must read about these most unlikely heroines! They devoted their lives to their appreciation of the opera and within that framework spent their own time and money during World War II smuggling Jews out of Europe and out of the hands of the Nazis
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This is definitely one of the most unusual books I have ever read. It is written by Ida Cook and is about she and her sister Louise. They both were in their twenties and developed a real passion for opera. They were kind of like opera groupies. They saved enough money to travel to America to see some concerts. In doing so they also became friends of quite a few opera stars in America, England, and Europe. In all of their travels to see different operas they unwittingly helped a woman get to England that was Jewish and trying to get out of Europe in the late 1930's. This led to them helping other people out of Europe, mostly Jews and a few others. It is a lovely book, very simple and very touching. I think eventually both of the sisters were honored by Yad Vashem in Israel. Really a wonderful book to read.
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Ida Cook authored over 100 romance novels under the name Mary Buchell, starting in the 1930s. I used to read a lot of genre romance in junior high and high school, and she was my favorite author. She spent time on character development, and her stories often featured unusual plots and very individual heroes and heroines.

I have admired her ever since I learned that she and her sister worked on behalf of Jewish refugees in the late 1930s. This is her memoir of that time, when they smuggled jewelry and furs out of Germany (so the people would have something to support themselves on once they escaped Germany) and found English sponsors to pledge to support the Jews so they would be allowed to leave for England. It was stressful and dangerous work.

Ida and her sister Louise were huge opera fans, and it was through their acquaintance with people in the opera world that their refugee work began. I give this book four instead of five stars mainly because there a lot of details about specific musical works and operatic stars. I've seen a few operas and liked them fine, but I'm not a huge fan so I found some of that a bit dull. But the parts where she describes specific refugees and their hurdles and what it was like to take shelter in London during German bombing raids is fantastic.

She is a fine writer.

"Characteristically, our last contact with Germany was strangely melodramatic. On August 24...news was received that the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact had been signed, and even the most naive could not pretend to themselves any longer that war was avoidable. It had been a curious and nerve-racking day. Just as we were going to bed, around midnight, the telephone rang.
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