Review: Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi

30 May

I read this for Book Club L. This isn’t a book I would have picked up on my own, which is one of the things I like about being in a club. For the first time in the over 9 years the group has been meeting, there were more people that hadn’t finished the book than that had (3-2, usually everyone finishes). And in spite of that, we had a really good discussion of the book.

Stones from the River Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book is the story of Trudi, a dwarf woman in Germany before, during, and after WWII. She is an observer of her town, never quite fitting in.

We see a town that seems to be of good people, until Hitler comes to power. Some embrace Hitler as a savior of the German people. Others think it best to go along and not make waves, that everything will be better soon. And others do what they can to resist, either in the open (which quickly gets them captured or killed) or under cover of darkness.

And all through this, life goes on. People are married, they have affairs. Babies are born and kids argue with their parents.

Through all of this, Trudi collects the town’s stories. The stories form a stream, and we see the ripples as the stories impact each other, and as Trudi uses the stories to change her life by affecting others.

I had some minor problems that got in my way while reading the book, but they were the exceptions.

The language in Stones from the River is beautiful. It is unusual for me to say that without combining it with a complaint that it got in my way while reading the book. It did slow down my reading. The book is a slow read, which is probably why my book club had so many members that didn’t finish reading it.

This book made for excellent discussion. The book called for comparisons to other books and movies (I was interested in the similarities and differences between Stones From the River and The Book Thief). We also discussed the echos from the events in this book and current events.


Posted by on May 30, 2009 in Book Club, books, L, reviews


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4 responses to “Review: Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi

  1. Nan

    May 31, 2009 at 4:27 am

    This book sounds good! I love when I read a book that isn’t a book I would have found on my own, and then end up loving it! I think that is why I have really enjoyed reading so many blogs about books. It’s a great way to discover new books. Happy reading!

  2. Betty and Boo's Mommy

    May 31, 2009 at 8:55 am

    This is one of my all-time favorite books EVER. I read this when it was selected as an Oprah Book Club pick and simply fell in love with it, as there was much I could relate to. (One of those books that comes along at the perfect time in one’s life, y’know?) I’ve also enjoyed several of Ursula Hegi’s other books since (with the exception of her latest, which I quickly abandoned … a disappointment.)

  3. Sue

    May 31, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I totally agree about book clubs – my reading has expanded so much since joining book groups a few years ago!

    This sounds good. Both of my book groups recently read books set in Nazi Germany – one read The Book Thief and the other read Those Who Save Us. Both were excellent and sparked some great discussions.

    Thanks for the review –



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