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The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival Paperback – November 1, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 143 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One of 10,000 Jewish children sent to England by fearful parents at the dawn of WWII, aspiring pianist Lisa Jura was 14 when her family put her on a Kindertransport train in Vienna. In this alternately heart-wrenching and uplifting story, Jura's daughter, Golabek, a pianist, and writer Cohen trace the six years Jura spent in London, where she found surrogate families in the 31 other young refugees at the Willesden Lane hostel, and in the working-class British women at the East End garment factory that employed her. The authors beautifully capture Jura's passion for music and her determination to realize her dream of becoming a concert pianist. Her quest to win a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music seems to inject hope into everyone with whom she comes into contact: the hostel owner provides her with a piano and practice time, her housemates band together to drill her on technique and theory, and a co-worker makes her an audition outfit. Yet this is no Babes in Arms. Jura's struggle to hold herself together on the trip to England and as she makes a life for herself without the guidance of her beloved mother is as bleak as her musical successes are joyful. And the depictions of V-Day are especially vivid: rather than celebrate with the masses, Jura retreats to the hostel. The war may be over, but for her and her fellow young refugees waiting to learn the fate of their families, the tragedy will continue.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A deeply moving and heartfelt tale....Compelling."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446690279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446690270
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rebecca Brown on April 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a Heroine's journey during time of war. From Vienna, the city of music, to a little house outside London, where Lisa Jura will find safety & a piano where she can continue her mother's legacy.
It is the memories of the descent into the hell that Adolph Hitler visited upon the people of Europe, upon the life of one girl with a huge talent & a family who sent her away that she might survive.
It is memories of danger & death, as well as hope & the goodness in people's hearts, & how a dream made a girl brave & true to her heritage.
THE CHILDREN OF WILLESDEN LANE is passionate, engaging & charming, destined to find its place beside THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.
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Format: Hardcover
I have never before been reduced to tears by a book.... During the hours I spent reading The Children of Willesden Lane I experienced tears of joy, tears of pain, tears for the human condition and finally the soul cleansing tears of a spirit renewed. I literally cried my way through the last 140 pages of The Children of Willesden Lane while sitting in seat 6C of a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Houston. Not a simple moistening of the eyes, but a steady stream of tears pouring down my cheeks as I experienced a completely unexpected range of intense emotion. I have read hundreds of nonfiction books and never, absolutely never, have I experienced anything even vaguely akin to this extraordinarily down-to-earth book.
The first third of the book feels like getting reacquainted with an old friend. Despite the tragic backdrop of the era, the themes and the setting feel warm and familiar. The character development is just detailed enough to evoke the distinct identities of the major characters without setting them in stone. Instead of nailing down every conceivable detail, Mona Golabek leaves plenty of room for the reader to personalize the lead characters. As I dug deeper and deeper into the storyline, it was uncanny how I began to identify more and more closely with the central characters. It is almost as if the book was crafted to ensure that Lisa, Aaron, Johnny, Gina, Gunter, Hans, Mr. Hardesty, Mrs. Canfield and Mrs. McRae would gradually assume the characteristics of the people who have made profound differences in my life. It is worthy to note that none of the characters are completely idealized.
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Format: Hardcover
The Children of Willesden Lane is a remarkable, transporting story, at once upllifting and heartbreaking. I'm a better person for reading it. The authors' flawless narrative style facilitates a "can't put the book down" memoir read. After grabbing their readers' hearts, Golabek and Cohen seize their readers' minds with a cogent, compassionate, and otherworldly understanding of the intricacies of living a life in music, and its accordant near-mystical ability to bring humanity as close as it can get to the divine. Such are Golabek's and Cohen's gifts that one can almost hear the music coming from the pages of The Children of Willisden Lane. I loved this book. It is a gift.
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Format: Hardcover
Anne Frank's parents turned down the chance to send their daughters to England before the war, not recognizing the imminent danger until it was too late. Lisa Jura's parents did recognize that danger and took advantage of an empty seat on the Kindertransport to send Lisa to the relative safety of the English countryside. Several other reviews have noted the "can't put it down" quality of this wonderful story. I must add my agreement to that sentiment! The only interruptions in my reading were stopping to play at least a snippet of the Chopin, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff pieces on my CDs, so I could follow Lisa's enjoyment of them even better! This book should be used by all teachers who teach Anne Frank's story, as it is a beautiful look at the life Anne herself might have had had her parents only seen the danger in time.
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Format: Hardcover
The Children of Willseden Lane is a motivational piece of literature about a young woman, Lisa, who dared to dream and made that dream a reality. Her daughter, Mona Golabek, wrote this memoir on her mother's wondrous gift of playing the piano. Lisa spent all her life in Vienna, Austria before the Nazis invaded causing her to be sent to London on the Kindertransport leaving her heartbroken parents and two sisters behind. She was sent to a hostel on Willesden Lane where she lived with thirty other Jewish children for the duration of World War II. She felt a sense of comfort right away because these children were dealing with the same loneliness, and Lisa became part of the big family. The would have a special bond which would stay with all of them forever because they would spend most nights huddled together in a bomb shelter fleeing the late night bombings. As soon as her matron, Ms. Cohen, realized that she had a prodigy living under her roof, she did everything in her power to help Lisa achieve her goal. Before long, everyone in the hostel was encouraging her to become a pianist and begged her to play for them every night after dinner. After much hard work, Lisa was accepted into an elite music school, which proved that anything was possible. The children became motivated and were given a sense of hope that they too could "make something of themselves". After the war was over, she was reunited with her two sisters and learned that her parents were sent to a death camp. Lisa became even more motivated to continue with her musical talents so that she would always play for her mother as a tribute for their shared love of music.
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