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Other People’s Houses: A Novel Paperback – November 30, 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

An immensely impressive, unclassifiable book.

About the Author

Lore Segal was born in Vienna and educated at the University of London. The author of Other People’s Houses, Her First American, and Shakespeare’s Kitchen (all published by The New Press) and other works, she is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, and other publications. Between 1968 and 1996 she taught writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, Princeton University, Bennington College, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Ohio State University, from which she retired in 1996.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (November 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565849507
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565849501
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,229,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Light on August 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a fine memoir in general but the first part (about two thirds of the book) is outstanding in particular. It chronicles the author's life as she is sent by her parents from 1938 Vienna to England, where she lives with several families over the course of the war--from a household of well-off orthodox Jews in Liverpool to one of working class lapsed Christians in the south to the fine house of two elderly and wealthy sisters. Along the way, she describes events from the child's point of view--she was just short of eleven when she began her journey--never allowing her adult consciousness to comment on matters. (Not explicity, at least.) The result is often humorous, as she describes the inevitable cultural and linguistic differences, and that surely makes this an unusual "Holocaust memoir," which I suppose it is on some level.
In addition to writing of her own little triumphs and misfortunes, Lore Segal also writes about her parents, who were fortunate enough to join her in England several months after her own arrival. (For various reasons, they were never actually able to live together again as a family in the same domicile.) Fortunate may not be the best word, since her father, already in poor health, suffered with various ailments before dying in 1944. He had been a bank's chief accountant in Austria, and his wife a highly cultured pianist, but while in England they had no choice but to work as gardener (the father) and cook (the mother). The author writes movingly (but not mawkishly) of their struggles. Interestingly, the mother, who adapted well and worked tirelessly, is portrayed in near heroic terms while the father is shown as not only a phyical failure but, I would say, also as a moral one.
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By A Customer on May 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have read so many holocaust memoirs that when I was given this book I wasn't that excited to read it. I was mistaken: no matter how much you have read on this subject, there's no substitute for reading Lore Segal. As a child she's sent on a kindertransport to England, and this memoir chronicles her youth there--as a guest in "other people's houses,"--as well as her advenutres (along with the rest of her refugee family) in the Dominican Republic, and, finally, New York--where she is at last able to establish her own home.
Her voice is so strong, smart, and sophisticated that even when the story is at its saddest you'll find her an irresitable narrator.
I not only loved reading this book, I learned from it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
After I saw Ms. Segal interviewed in the film, "Into the Arms of Strangers", I knew I had to read this book. She is incredibly engaging and candid. I found myself reading this book while attempting other chores, it gripped me so much. One gets the feel of sitting down in a parlor with her and sipping coffee (or English tea) as she unfolds a captivating story of escape, disenchantment, survival and hope. The only thing better for me would have been actually meeting her in person. I highly recommend this book. I tell everyone I know to read it.
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Format: Paperback
My mom is always sending me 'depressing' books about wives who murder their husbands, homeless Irish gypsies, Australian orphans and the like. For the most part, I make it through the first three chapters before I'm so bummed out I have to give up on the book and go hug my kids. "Other People's Houses" is entirely different creature. The author allows herself to write about each experience as the child she was, instead of the adult she is. Even in the rockiest situations, there's a feeling of levity, if not pure humor, that Segal holds on to. Highly recommended, even for those who are not 'fans' of Holocaust memoirs.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Lore Groszmann remembered the first ten years of her life in Austria, the following ten years in England, three years as a young woman in the Dominican Republic and then New York. From a bitterly cold December night, 1938 to the 1st of May 1951 was the period she had to survive until their permit to enter the USA was granted.

The memoir is written with an honesty and humbleness, commemorating the life of an only child who had to be sent off on the Children's Train from Austria to England, not knowing if she will ever see her family again.

The engaging tale described the mental tools she had to develop to survive on her own being moved from one foster home to the next. She became accustomed to the class system in England, by being moved from the wealthy family of a Jewish furniture manufacturer in Liverpool - an Orthodox family who spoke Yiddish, which she couldn't understand or identify with at all, to a railroad stoker and his family, a milkman's family and the upper class of Guilford where her mother later would work as a maid. She would be living with five different families: There were the Levines, the Willoughbys, The Grinsleys, and finally Miss Douglas and Mrs. Dillon

This is a story of immigration and assimilation. Of finding new social bonds within challenging circumstances. The story of a lonely little girl who translated pain, guilt, grief, agony, stress and constant fear into suppressed anger, arrogance, ungratefulness, often rudeness and stubbornness. It made her unlikable. Although her parents were able to escape to England, they were not allowed, as domestics, to accommodate her into their lives. Domestics were not allowed to have their children living with them.
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