The Luck of the Weissensteiners

The Luck of the Weissensteiners

4.8 13
by Christoph Fischer
     
 

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In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 a romantic girl falls for a bookseller from Berlin. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, slowly settles in with the Winkelmeier clan just as the developments in Germany start to make waves in Europe. The political climate in the multifaceted cultural jigsaw puzzle of disintegrating Czechoslovakia becomes more

Overview

In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 a romantic girl falls for a bookseller from Berlin. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, slowly settles in with the Winkelmeier clan just as the developments in Germany start to make waves in Europe. The political climate in the multifaceted cultural jigsaw puzzle of disintegrating Czechoslovakia becomes more complex and affects relations between the couple and the families.
The story follows their lot through the war with its predictable and also its unexpected turns and events and the equally hard times after.

From the moment that Greta Weissensteiner enters the bookstore where Wilhelm Winkelmeier works, and entrances him with her good looks and serious ways, I was hooked. But this is no ordinary romance; in tact it is not a romance at all, but a powerful, often sad, Holocaust story. What makes The Luck of the Weissensteiners so extraordinary is the chance Christoph Fischer gives his readers to consider the many different people who were never in concentration camps, never in the military, yet who nonetheless had their own indelible Holocaust experiences. Set in the fascinating area of Bratislava, this is a wide-ranging, historically accurate exploration of the connections between social location, personal integrity and, as the title says, luck. I cared about every one of this novel's characters and continued to think about them long after I'd finished reading.

-- Andrea Steiner, University of California Santa Cruz

The Luck of the Weissensteiners is an epic saga set in wartime Eastern Europe. It follows the lives of two families - one Jewish, one Catholic - and their entwined survival amidst the backdrop of the second world war; first the fascist then the communist invasion and occupation of Slovakia, and the horror of the consequences of war. The reader is transported to a world of deception, fear, distrust and betrayal, alongside enduring love and family drama. The characters are vividly painted in the mind of the reader as we follow their journey across Europe at a time of unimaginable challenge and trauma. Weissensteiners is a magnificent tale of human survival. I wish I hadn't read it already so that I may repeat the pleasure of discovering and becoming lost in the story once again.(less)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781481130332
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
12/07/2012
Pages:
382
Sales rank:
449,664
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.79(d)

Meet the Author

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he is still resident today. 'The Luck of The Weissensteiners' is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

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The Luck of the Weissensteiners 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
BLRocque More than 1 year ago
With much research behind it, as well as the personal experience of growing up in the region, Christoph Fischer’s work of historical fiction provides insight into the psyche beneath the levels of destruction in WWII-era Europe. If you are someone who wonders how such atrocities could have occurred prior to, and during WWII on the continent, you will want to read The Luck of the Weissensteiners. The setting is Czechoslovakia, though it could have been almost any country in the region. Ethnic disrespect, hate, and violence have gone on for centuries in central and eastern Europe. Until reading this book, though, I did not understand how finely differentiated these forces were. Indirectly, the book also helped me to better understand how the dark side of nationality has wiped out countless human beings during various periods in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia—and for that matter, North and South America. The Luck of the Weissensteiners follows two families and their circles of life, as they try to navigate the virulent events of their time. The story begins with the romance of a German bookseller and a young, beautiful woman of Jewish heritage. They will soon be caught in the whirling winds of their time. The author depicts how nearly impossible it is for the characters of this saga to avoid the propaganda machines around them, the pressures to conform, often in a chameleon fashion due to sudden changes in governance, and most unfortunately, the programming in ethnic bias from the time they were children. Despite the serious subjects, there is much warmth in this story. Some of the characters do find ways to stay true to the best in their natures or even redeem themselves, just as real individuals did then, and have always done on the plains of human existence. If you enjoy well drawn characters whose lives and choices so deftly represent the themes of a book, The Luck of the Weissensteiners provides a rich read. In some ways, this book reminds me of classics I read long ago like The Canterbury Tales, or even The Odyssey, due to the diversity of personalities and the theme of journeys. From ethnic origin to talents and occupations, physical descriptions to sexual preferences, and economic status to political leanings, we see a cross section of humanity. Through their eyes and reactions, we can appreciate the full range of real outcomes and experiences, happy to sad or shocking, that occurred to real individuals during this era. By the way, the title of the book was an outstanding choice. The Luck of the Weissensteiners would be tremendous in an audio version. For now, consider reading it out loud with a few friends who are interested in what life was like for those who lived the events of the novel’s time. Though some critics might question the generous use of adverbs and adjectives in his narrative voice and in the dialogue tags, Christoph Fischer deftly weaves his tapestry of history and fiction, with a grace not unlike Jonas, one of his primary characters. For me, the author’s choice of narrative style brought economy to the complex story being told, as well as a kind of mesmerizing rhythm.
DPW1967 More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Christoph Fischer's novels. So I am biased. His research is second to none and the characters.....like able and sympathetic The plot runs smoothly and to be honest, and I say this about most of his books - A MINI SERIES WAITING TO BE MADE.  Brilliant.  
MurielleC More than 1 year ago
Christoph Fischer has written an important historical rendition of wartime Eastern Europe that will continue to haunt you for a long time after you finish reading it. The Luck of the Weissensteiners presents the spirit and horrific social conditions of Bratislava and the neighbouring countries during the Holocaust. The actual political figures of that era are embedded in the story but the slew of other characters are all strong fictional creations that give life and credibility to the historical backdrop. It is a touching story of courage, love and heroic endurance in a time of abject cruelty and terror. War has the knack of bringing out either the best or the worse of the human psyche--both extremes are equally depicted in the novel. The players in this drama are far from being two-dimensional; even the cold, unfeeling characters will at times show a glimmer of warmth. Greta and her Jewish family remain loyal to their compassionate and trusting nature throughout their terrifying ordeal. Her fate is sealed when she falls in love with Wilhelm, a charming German bookseller whose true colours as a calculating anti-Semite are revealed when the going gets tough. Be prepared for emotional upheaval while reading this-- you cannot remain untouched.
Autumn2 More than 1 year ago
I received this book to give an honest review. I am not a big reader of historical books of any sort. But this one really captured me, at first it was a bit of a slow start as I was getting to know the characters but as soon as was hooked I could not put the book down. I felt so many emotions within this book, anger, hope, love. This author has a way with writing and telling you a story that you can not help but be hooked.  You are following a family and other characters that come into the life of a family. The Weissensteiners are Jewish but they do not claim the faith. When Jonah's daughter Greta Weissensteiner falls in love with a German bookstore worker you think wow these two are going to be a great couple. But as soon as they marry and start a family that is when everything literally goes to hell in a hand basket. You have Hitler and the war against Jews and all that goes against what Hitler stands for, you have Wilhelm Winkelmeier and his mean family that seem to hate Greta because of her race. With this war there is heartache and everyone seems to lose something. For Greta, it is the connection with her family and it broke my heart that she couldn't be with them when she needed to. The way Wilhelm treated Greta I literally wanted to slap Wilhelm I disliked what he did to Greta I found it shady and I resented him for it. Within this story you learn that family and those close to you is what matters most. Now the weaver Jonah and his family have been very lucky thanks to someone who has a way to bribe people to stay off the list of being deported but how far does their luck run? The ending was just awesome, I am so glad it ended the way it did with Greta finally getting her wish. She has been though so much and was very strong through out everything that was thrown her way that she deserved peace, but I would have like for her ex-husband to have told her to her face why he did what he did truly and not some lie or something to make her feel better.  This author has a way with making you feel what others went through during this rough time and bringing the war right into your heart. If you are looking for a historical book that keeps you hooked and left with emotions then you need to get your hands on this book I totally recommend it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an avid history buff, I was excited to read The Luck of the Weissensteiners on the recommendation of a friend. Christoph Fischer delivers a powerful and intense look into the lives of several connected families living in Czechoslovakia before, during, and after WWII. There were several factors that made this novel particularly enjoyable to me. First was the author’s writing style, which presented itself as though it was being told by a great storyteller to its listeners around a fire, much in the same way family stories were passed on from generation to generation in the days before widespread literacy. Fischer wove the stories of each of the story’s characters together seamlessly in such a way that I could truly feel how closely connected their lives became as the narrative progressed. However, what I found most captivating was the beautiful way Fischer told the stories of the people who are never mentioned in a typical Holocaust account. Movies, documentaries, and other novels are quick to share the bold tales of families dragged to concentration camps and soldiers on the front lines. Very rarely have I encountered a story that so poignantly portrays the realities of those people who were simply ordinary citizens attempting to live peacefully in the small rural communities throughout Europe. I found myself wondering how I would have reacted in the characters’ situations as they were forced to live through circumstances that were many times beyond their control. What I would have initially deemed as unforgivable, when perceived from a different perspective, became far more understandable. To initiate this level of self-reflection is a testament to Fischer’s ability as an author. I am looking forward to reading more novels by this author and would highly recommend Luck of the Weisensteiners to anyone who enjoys great historical fiction.
KudaKM More than 1 year ago
A great story told by a great storyteller Greta was a romantic and she loved to read. It was only natural that she fell in love with Wilhelm, a fellow book lover who worked in a bookshop. She believed that she would live happily ever after with Wilhelm like the characters in the books she read. The two married and lived happily at first but as the political climate in Europe changed, their marriage became strained. Wilhelm was a German and Greta was a Jew. Their marriage stood no chance when Wilhelm fell for the Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda. In this book we learn how the megalomania of one man, Hitler, affected millions of people. It teaches us how racist propaganda can affect people and split families. When Wilhelm fell for Nazi propaganda, he stopped seeing Greta as the beautiful woman he fell in love with; he began to see her as an inferior Jew. Neighbours who had lived peacefully with each other turned against each other when they fell for the racist propaganda. This is a well-narrated suspenseful story about a Jewish family during before, during and after the World War. As I read it, there were times when my heart pounded with fear for the Weissensteiner family. When Czechoslovakia became a Nazi protectorate, many Jews were sent to the concentration camps and Jonah and his family lived in constant fear but they were lucky to have the protection of a rich Countess, who bribed government officials. Even when the odds are down, there is always hope and even when the majority of people are poisoned with hate propaganda, some people remain good. In the middle o this period of hate, there was love, kindness and tolerance. The Weissensteiner family was a loving family where members looked out of each other and in the Countess, they had a protector who saw them as the good people they were. When the family moved into the home of the countess, they stayed in a community where everyone was accepted regardless of race and sexual orientation. I enjoyed every page of this book and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good historical story. If you love stories about World War II, this is a must read. My next book is the second book of this trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Historically accurate, emotionally poignant a moving MOST worthwhile read Christoph Fischer's THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS is a book that I approached with some trepidation. The theme of WW II Holocaust has been so well presented in many books so it is not an easy subject to compete in. In my humble opinion it is a historically accurate story, I am not a historian, but I have explored that era in depth. This is a story where the reader gets to know the characters and walk with them through the horrors of WWII. It is very balanced in showing that everyone suffered in a war, that in some cases it brought out the best and the worst in humanity. So it does not limit the story to The Holocaust, but rather brilliantly paints a picture of many aspects and in particular Czechoslovakia. With brilliant stolen moments of joy and human kindness, agonizing moments of human suffering and enough survivors to insure that the tale felt very plausible and believable. All prejudice, all wars should be remembered lest as a society we could be foolish enough to fall in the same steps. As cliché as it may seem to quote George Santanaya ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Mr. Fischer entertains and informs in a manner that makes the past painful and easy to remember. I recommend this as a historically accurate, emotionally poignant a moving MOST worthwhile read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters were so realistic I wondered if they were real people.This was the best historical fiction I’ve read in a long time. The setting is Czechoslovakia beginning in the mid 1930’s. Jonah Weistensteiner is a brilliant craftsman, a weaver. He has a small shop in Bratislavia where he has two looms and does primarily special orders. Jonah also has two daughters and a son. The family is Jewish by birth, but they do not practice the religion. The story follows the family from the time Jonah’s daughter Greta meets her future husband, through her marriage to a German, and the struggles both her Jewish and her German family face coming into WWII. In Czechoslovakia both Germans and Jews encounter discrimination until the Nazi party takes over the country. Fischer gives a clear description of the politics, and social conflicts within Czechoslovakia that contributed to Hitler’s easy take-over of the country. Through Fischer’s characters the reader sees how the citizens came to fight in a war against their best interests. The story takes us through the war and into the aftermath of sorting out the displaced people who have fled from conquering armies and the violence of war. I gave this excellent story four stars because I occasionally got lost as to who was whom. A few more identification tags would have helped as the story moved between German families. This may not bother those who are familiar with long German and Jewish names. This very slight issue certainly should not deter a reader from buying this engaging and educational book.
Jane_V_Blanchard More than 1 year ago
The Luck of the Weissensteiners by Christoph Fischer is the story of two families, one Jewish and the other Catholic, and their struggle for survival in Bratislava, Slovakia prior to and during the Nazi occupation. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, marries Wilhelm Winkelmeier, a young man working in a bookstore, and they move in with his farmer parents. The book is not only a commentary on the war and its effect on people, but a good example of the differences between city life and country life, social standing, family loyalty, the struggle to survive, compassion and the lack of it—humanity in general. I loved the character development and the way they interacted. Mr Fischer's research is evident in the detail and historical references. For those who enjoy historical fiction with lots of historical facts, this is a fantastic book. I, on the other hand, enjoy the characters and plot more than the historical minutia, For this reason, I found the book occasionally dragged, though I did learn a lot about the era and area. This is a good story with many characters, plots, and underlying themes. I recommend reading the book, even if you are not interested in the historical data; the story is worth it.
AvidReader2015 More than 1 year ago
The Luck of the Weissensteiners is a portrait of a family is drawn against a backdrop of world gone mad during wartime. The father, Jonah, is a weaver of fine carpets, and so, in a different way, is the author: when thinking about Christoph Fischer, I note that the weaving of this story is done with a hand that is fine, and movements that are wonderfully measured, striving to achieve balance even when events tease the yarn, and jerk the characters way out of their comfort zone.  There is drive and intention in the design, and a strong element of luck to the survival of this family. At first, Jonah and his daughters Greta and Wilma, and his son Egon, barely give any thought to their Jewish background and traditions. The story opens in pre WWII Bratislava with a budding love between Greta and Wilhelm, a young German bookseller. A burst of love is a powerful way to hook us to the story, and it is a fiery emotion that will be tested to the limit, forge the hearts of some characters and break others. Later, the story then takes us to Carlsbad, Aschaffenburg and finally to post-war Frankfurt, reviving the era in well-researched detail. It is only when we near the end of this epic story that we notice how the characters—and we—have gained perspective of their lives. “It was not as if Greta felt any more Jewish now than she had before the war or wanted to be included in their company. But she was a victim of the same fascist criminals and had somehow hoped for sympathy or solidarity. Sadly there was too much fear amongst the survivors to allow such openness to outsiders and the Weissensteiner clan was left isolated.” Five stars.
dianneharman More than 1 year ago
We've all studied World War II in history classes and some of us are old enough to have had relatives who fought in the war. For me, it was always somewhat abstract. The brilliant author, Christoph Fischer, bring the war alive through characters who live every horrible minute of it. The struggles of the family and extended family are unbelievable. And we think we're struggling when the cable doesn't work or our cell phones aren't charged! In movies about World War II, it seems that action becomes far more important than relationships. But in this excellent book, relationships trump action. The book beautifully explores the struggles of a family and how each of them is affected by the war. This is an up close look at the hardships and tragedies this family endured. The characters are wonderfully drawn: Wilma, Johanna, Greta, Wilhelm, and all the rest. The author juxtaposes the horrors of war with individuals' acts of kindness. A juxtaposition that might not work in less capable hands. I learned more about that area of the world in that time frame than I ever did in any classroom situation. Should be mandatory reading in every history class. A tour de force and I can't recommend it highly enough! Bravo, Mr. Fischer!
bookworm_gp More than 1 year ago
 A Fascinating History with Wonderful Characters!  I had expected a romantic story but "The Luck of the Weissensteiners" was so much more! This story turned out to be an intriguing family saga with lots of interesting characters. They showed all that can happen in a small and new country like Slovakia was then. The characters drew me in, and I got attached to every one of them. I felt like I was right there with them, and I was at the edge of my seat until the end of their dramatic journey. I loved the epilogue where the author ties up everything really nice. Two thumbs up for a wonderful read!
sheryl1 More than 1 year ago
The Luck of the Weissensteiners by Christoph Fischer is an awesome read and altogether heartwarming and eye opening. I have read and reviewed all of this author's wonderful books. This is the second time to review this one and I hope it will stay on. Christoph Fischer is very creative and with his unique talent weaves not only a wonderful and interesting story but at times very touching. A master at his craft. I encourage all to read his work and enjoy the novelty of a true writer! 5 stars and I love this family you have created. I think of them often