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Up from Orchard Street by [Widmer, Eleanor]
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Up from Orchard Street Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Orchard Street becomes an iconic address for generations of immigrant Jewish families pursuing the dream of freedom and prosperity in America in the 1930s. The Roth family's three generations embody the hopes, dreams, and frailties of thousands of families like them. Manya, the widowed matriarch, is the linchpin that holds the generations close while operating a restaurant from their tenement apartment. Elka, granddaughter and narrator, passionately relates the family's climb out of poverty in this posthumous autobiographical novel. Elka is a loving and acute observer, noting her adored father Jack's weakness for horseracing and other women and anxiety over his wife Lil's fragile health. Her mother is like a butterfly--destined to a short life but with a startlingly beautiful exterior. Sharing their world is a cast of other unforgettable family members and neighborhood characters that makes Orchard Street a vibrant tableau of New York's Lower East Side. A fictional tribute to the importance of home and hearth. Laurie Sundborg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"Poignant snapshot of a long-lost era and place.... [this] first novel offers pungent, nostalgic vignettes of Jewish life on Manhattan's Lower East Side."--Kirkus Reviews


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1097 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (December 18, 2007)
  • Publication Date: December 18, 2007
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XU4TMW
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,305 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brady Kelso on July 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eleanor Widmer has written a beautiful memoir of her life growing up on New York's Lower East Side during the 1930s. In the tradition of E.L. Doctorow and Isaac Bashevis Singer, Ms. Widmer has created a poignant portrait of one family's struggle to beat the odds and survive. I had the good fortune to be a student in Dr. Widmer's creative writing classes at San Diego State University, and her stories of growing up poor in New York were lessons for us all. Her charisma, her wit, and her razor-sharp intellect echo through the pages of "Up From Orchard Street." Her voice in these pages takes me back to her classroom of the 1970s. She was an amazing professor and her book is a joy to read. I'm thrilled to see that Random House has published this beautifully-written work. Bennett Cerf, who selected Ms. Widmer for top honors in a writing contest back in the early sixties, would indeed be proud. Eleanor Widmer has left a resplendent legacy for her students, her friends, and her family.

Brady Kelso, Ramona, California
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Format: Paperback
I found this story charming and enlightening regarding the Jewish immigrant experience in NYC in the 1930's. I came to love the characters and was sad when the book ended because I felt like I knew the characters personally. I loved the way the author combined a partial memoir and a social history of the times. Definitely worth reading or giving as a gift. Would make a great movie!
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Format: Hardcover
Teenage Manya and her spouse accompanied by their infant son Abraham Jacob left Odessa, Russia for New York, but her husband died during the journey. Manya obtained work at Grenspan's Bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When Jack turned four, Manya sent for her much younger sister seven years old Bertha to live with her and her son.

Her cooking gets Manya a following and soon a typesetter at the Jewish Forward enables her to open her own restaurant on Orchard Street. In the 1930s, Jack works in the fashion industry where he meets and marries the delicate from childhood illnesses but lovely Lil, who is the opposite of her steel magnolia mother-in-law. They have two children and adopt a starving black child whose name sounds almost like Clayton so they call him Clayton. Through the three generations, Manya is the matriarchal soul of this Jewish family, but changes are coming with a cafeteria opening nearby and a trip to Connecticut.

UP FROM ORCHARD STREET is told by one of the grandchildren Elka about life in a 1930s Jewish family, which centers on "Bubby" Manya. Elka provides insider depth to life in the Lower East Side of New York as few writers have accomplished. With photos from the era and specific historical places (my Bubby used to take me shopping on Orchard Street, which was in the early 1960s the best bargain around if you were willing to negotiate) included in the fine plot, readers will conclude that this is a superb biographical fictionalized account paying homage to Eleanor Widmer's bubby as well as to the late author who recently passed away.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An amazing story weaving fact and fiction. Eleanor Widmer portrays a excellent picture of the Lower East Side of early New York City. The story is told through the eyes of a youngster whose parents strive for the better life away from the tenements of the Lower East Side.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this account of what it was like to grow up in a poor Jewish family, love and optimism outdoing all other obstacles. It was interesting to glimpse the activities and language that place individuals into a certain class of society. The book was well written, not brilliantly written, and I found it easy to pick up and put down.
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Format: Paperback
Even if you are not a New Yorker, this book tugs on your heartstrings. It is a story of a loving, closely knit family with all the trials and tribulations of immigrants in the lower east side of New York. Our bookclub enjoyed it immensely.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as I child. (Moved to Long Island when 7 yrs. old.) We lived in a 4 story tenement building. I reminisced while reading this. My parents lived there longer than I and some of the stories they told us were about the people and different neighborhoods. We were quite an ethnic mix. Italians, Puerto Ricans, Jewish, etc. We were all friendly to one another and helpful. I really enjoyed this book and the "walk down memory lane".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved it. I read this after visiting the Tenement Museum in the Lower east Side neighborhood of Manhattan, NYC. The book told an interesting story of an immigrant family in that neighborhood and what life was like for them. I liked the fact that I had walked on some of the streets mentioned in the book. I look forward to returning to that area some day.
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