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The Children of Willesden Lane. Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival

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This inspiring true story of how classical music saved a young girl's life during World War II is a book for history and music lovers and the perfect choice for book clubs. Mona Golabek tells the tale of her mother Lisa Jura Golabek's escape from Nazi-controlled Austria to England on the infamous Kindertransport. Jewish musical prodigy Lisa Jura has a wonderful life in Vie This inspiring true story of how classical music saved a young girl's life during World War II is a book for history and music lovers and the perfect choice for book clubs. Mona Golabek tells the tale of her mother Lisa Jura Golabek's escape from Nazi-controlled Austria to England on the infamous Kindertransport. Jewish musical prodigy Lisa Jura has a wonderful life in Vienna. But when the Nazis start closing in on the city, life changes irreversibly. Although he has three daughters, Lisa's father is able to secure only one berth on the Kindertransport. The family decides to send Lisa to London so that she may pursue her dreams of a career as a concert pianist. Separated from her beloved family, Lisa bravely endures the trip and a disastrous posting outside London before finding her way to the Willesden Lane Orphanage. Her music inspires the other orphanage children, and they, in turn, cheer her on in her efforts to make good on her promise to her family to realize her musical potential. Through hard work and sheer pluck, Lisa wins a scholarship to study piano at the Royal Academy. As she supports herself and studies, she makes a new life for herself and dreams of reconnecting with the family she was forced to leave behind. The resulting tale delivers a message of the power of music to uplift the human spirit and to grant the individual soul endurance, patience, and peace. *Includes a reading group guide*


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This inspiring true story of how classical music saved a young girl's life during World War II is a book for history and music lovers and the perfect choice for book clubs. Mona Golabek tells the tale of her mother Lisa Jura Golabek's escape from Nazi-controlled Austria to England on the infamous Kindertransport. Jewish musical prodigy Lisa Jura has a wonderful life in Vie This inspiring true story of how classical music saved a young girl's life during World War II is a book for history and music lovers and the perfect choice for book clubs. Mona Golabek tells the tale of her mother Lisa Jura Golabek's escape from Nazi-controlled Austria to England on the infamous Kindertransport. Jewish musical prodigy Lisa Jura has a wonderful life in Vienna. But when the Nazis start closing in on the city, life changes irreversibly. Although he has three daughters, Lisa's father is able to secure only one berth on the Kindertransport. The family decides to send Lisa to London so that she may pursue her dreams of a career as a concert pianist. Separated from her beloved family, Lisa bravely endures the trip and a disastrous posting outside London before finding her way to the Willesden Lane Orphanage. Her music inspires the other orphanage children, and they, in turn, cheer her on in her efforts to make good on her promise to her family to realize her musical potential. Through hard work and sheer pluck, Lisa wins a scholarship to study piano at the Royal Academy. As she supports herself and studies, she makes a new life for herself and dreams of reconnecting with the family she was forced to leave behind. The resulting tale delivers a message of the power of music to uplift the human spirit and to grant the individual soul endurance, patience, and peace. *Includes a reading group guide*

30 review for The Children of Willesden Lane. Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival

  1. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    I loved this book, the true story of Lisa Jura who came to England as part of the Kindertransport which rescued 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazis. I saw Mona Golabek last year at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood performing "The Pianist of Willesden Lane," a one-woman play based on this book in which she portrays her mother. It was one of the most moving and beautiful performances that I have ever seen (including Golabek's stunning piano virtuosity). I was moved to tears several times. https: I loved this book, the true story of Lisa Jura who came to England as part of the Kindertransport which rescued 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazis. I saw Mona Golabek last year at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood performing "The Pianist of Willesden Lane," a one-woman play based on this book in which she portrays her mother. It was one of the most moving and beautiful performances that I have ever seen (including Golabek's stunning piano virtuosity). I was moved to tears several times. https://dcmetrotheaterarts.com/2018/0... This moving book is a tribute to the triumph of music, art, beauty and the resilient human spirit over evil and adversity. Brava, Lisa Jura and Mona Golabek!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Griffin

    A story that needed to be told, the love of music overcoming the heinous specter of genocide. The audio version had piano music inserted at relevant points in the narrative.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lorri

    The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love and Survival, by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen. Lisa Jura was fourteen-years old and living in pre-World War II Vienna when her parents put her on a Kindertransport train leaving for England. Lisa was studying piano, and had hoped to become a concert pianist. Mona Golabek, her daughter, and author Lee Cohen bring us the story of Jura’s journey through the Kindertransport program, where she resided for six years at a The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love and Survival, by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen. Lisa Jura was fourteen-years old and living in pre-World War II Vienna when her parents put her on a Kindertransport train leaving for England. Lisa was studying piano, and had hoped to become a concert pianist. Mona Golabek, her daughter, and author Lee Cohen bring us the story of Jura’s journey through the Kindertransport program, where she resided for six years at a hostel/orphanage located at 243 Willesden Lane, London. It is there that Jura forms long-lasting friendships with the other Kindertransport residents, and it is where her sister eventually comes to live, through the same program. The hostel is also where she and the other residents struggle daily, without knowing what has happened to their parents and other family members, while trying to maintain a sense of life and stabilty in their environment. Jura is determined to make something of herself and she works hard at a factory (forming strong bonds with the other workers), and returns after work to practice on the hostel piano, each day, with permission from the head matron, Mrs. Cohen. She strives towards becoming a concert pianist, and her goals and dreams begin to become realized through a scholarship she earned to attend The Royal Academy of Music. She was encouraged to apply for it by Mrs. Cohen, who realized Jura’s talents the first moment she (Cohen) heard Jura play the piano. The book is harsh and raw, no emotion left hidden, and it is a compelling book on so many levels. We journey with Jura through her difficulties in finding her place in a foreign world. We are at times emotionally drained, and other times extremely inspired by Jura through her strength and perseverance to find identity, and to adjust to her life without her closest friend…her mother. That Jura succeeded on all levels is a tribute to her willpower and devotion to her parents, and to her mother’s lasting words that kept her going through the harshest and most difficult of times, “Hold on to your music. It will be your best friend“. And, so it was. The Children of Willesden Lane is a heart-wrenching and beautifully written memoir and tribute, to Mona Golabek’s mother, and to Jura’s entire family. Jura’s parents were sent to Auschwitz and never heard from.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia Hobbet

    This was a research-driven choice. I needed to learn more, as close to first-hand as possible, about the British Kindertransport on the eve of World War II, a truly heroic program that took in 10,000 Austrian and German kids, most of them Jewish, as Hitler was scooping up their families for shipment to the concentration camps. Most of the kids, needless to say, never saw their families again. I say 'heroic' because England opened its doors to refugees even as other western nations turned a blind This was a research-driven choice. I needed to learn more, as close to first-hand as possible, about the British Kindertransport on the eve of World War II, a truly heroic program that took in 10,000 Austrian and German kids, most of them Jewish, as Hitler was scooping up their families for shipment to the concentration camps. Most of the kids, needless to say, never saw their families again. I say 'heroic' because England opened its doors to refugees even as other western nations turned a blind eye to what was going on, and refused to admit them. The last Kindertransport train arrived in London the day after England declared war on Germany, as Londoners desperately shoved their own kids onto the trains in a mass evacuation to protect them from German bombs. One of the characters in this memoir, a little girl, arrived on that train, having left behind her home, her family, her country, her language, and all her worldly possessions except those she could cram into a single small suitcase. It's an iconic scene. As for the book itself, it's at some remove from its origin, unfortunately,and reads as a scrubbed-clean hagiography of its main subject, Lisa Jura Golabek. a piano prodigy from a Viennese family, who was lucky enough to get out of Austria, thanks to Kindertransport. After Lisa's death many decades later, her daughter put the book together with the help of a journalist. I don't envy that journalist, paid to galvanize the daughter's enshrined second-hand memories. She didn't succeed. But the naked facts of the time and place are enough to make this book worth reading. You don't hear much about the Kindertransport, and it should be a name we know as deeply and indelibly as 'The Holocaust'.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan Morris

    Interesting story of Lisa Jura, one of approximate 10,000 Jewish children rescued from Nazis thru Kindertransport, and her piano playing. Just can't give it 4 stars because something about the writing is too simplistic, or something I can't quite put my finger on. I've just read other WWII books whose writing rings more true to me. (Own)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Masumian

    I believe this book may have been intended for young readers, but it holds great rewards for adults, as well. A "memoir" of Mona Golabek's mother's life during World War II, it's the story of a child prodigy, a young pianist named Lisa Jura, who is saved from Nazi-threatened Austria by the Kindertransport program in Europe in 1938-39. Under this program a select number of Jewish children were shipped from countries being invaded by Hitler to homes and hostels in England. There they were raised f I believe this book may have been intended for young readers, but it holds great rewards for adults, as well. A "memoir" of Mona Golabek's mother's life during World War II, it's the story of a child prodigy, a young pianist named Lisa Jura, who is saved from Nazi-threatened Austria by the Kindertransport program in Europe in 1938-39. Under this program a select number of Jewish children were shipped from countries being invaded by Hitler to homes and hostels in England. There they were raised for several years, never giving up hope of being reunited with their families. This story (I put "memoir" in quotes above, as it would seem impossible for the author to know all of what was going on in her mother's heart at that time) is one of hope and fortitude, as a young girl holds on to her music, finds a piano wherever possible to develop her talent, and manages to gain admittance to the Royal Academy of Music and eventually realize her dream of being a concert pianist. A remarkable book, it should be read by all young people today, educating them about World War II and what children and teens experienced at that time, as well as what it means to face adversity and survive. While not a great piece of literature, it tells an important story. It may be further enhanced by listening to the gorgeous piano music that is mentioned in the book. Note: I acquired this book as a result of seeing the one-woman show The Pianist of Willesden Lane, performed with tremendous skill by the author, Mona Golabek. I highly recommend it, if it comes to your town!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

    This is an incredible book! It is the story of the author's family and in particular her mother Lisa Jura. Ten thousand Jewish children were transported from Europe to England in an attempt to rescue as many children as possible from the grips of the Nazi regime intent on destroyed this loving, peaceful culture. As she systematically observes the treatment of her family and neighbors, time ticks away as day by day more and more physical and emotional assaults occur. Fortunate enough to land a preci This is an incredible book! It is the story of the author's family and in particular her mother Lisa Jura. Ten thousand Jewish children were transported from Europe to England in an attempt to rescue as many children as possible from the grips of the Nazi regime intent on destroyed this loving, peaceful culture. As she systematically observes the treatment of her family and neighbors, time ticks away as day by day more and more physical and emotional assaults occur. Fortunate enough to land a precious seat on the Kindertransport, Lisa leaves behind all that is precious to her, except for the musical talent she holds in her heart. This is a story of courage, of fear, of defeat and of survival. It is a unique story of children robbed from parental comfort, but given the blessing of life. Arriving with little or no knowledge of foreign custom and language, teary, tired and worn children came to England seeking a home. Many gracious loving British people opened their homes and hearts. While Lisa's family was promised a home for her, when she arrived her uncle told her there was no room for her. She eventually became a child of a large home on Willesden Lane near London. Through Lisa's eyes we learn of the adjustment and the emotional support given. My review could not do justice to the beauty of the writing and the story. This book is first and foremost a tale that needs to be told again and again, and it is a wonderful homage to the brave people of England during WWII. Highly recommended! ( )

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emma Gregory

    I normally shy away from books regarding the holocaust as the visions of the monstrosities committed to human life stay with me for weeks afterwards. However this book was a sheer delight to read. Lisa Jura is sent to London from Vienna at the beginning of World War 2 with nothing but the music in her heart and soul that her mother has taught her. As Lisa survives the Blitz and becomes a famous concert pianist she learns to overcome the poverty of being a refugee and strives to make her families I normally shy away from books regarding the holocaust as the visions of the monstrosities committed to human life stay with me for weeks afterwards. However this book was a sheer delight to read. Lisa Jura is sent to London from Vienna at the beginning of World War 2 with nothing but the music in her heart and soul that her mother has taught her. As Lisa survives the Blitz and becomes a famous concert pianist she learns to overcome the poverty of being a refugee and strives to make her families one wish true "hold on to your music. It will be your best friend". This is a story of guts and determination from not only Lisa Jura but all the people who stood up against Hitler so that coming generations could live freely.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    My qualms about this book have nothing to do with the writing and the story. Both were excellent. I enjoyed learning more about a little known (to me) slice of history and I liked our spunky determined heroine. My qualms stem from the fact that this is NOT a memoir. It was written by the subject's daughter. I think I would have liked the book more if it had been a biography OR an historical fiction with a lovely tribute in the author's note. The misnomer is really hard for me to get over, I don' My qualms about this book have nothing to do with the writing and the story. Both were excellent. I enjoyed learning more about a little known (to me) slice of history and I liked our spunky determined heroine. My qualms stem from the fact that this is NOT a memoir. It was written by the subject's daughter. I think I would have liked the book more if it had been a biography OR an historical fiction with a lovely tribute in the author's note. The misnomer is really hard for me to get over, I don't like when things are defined incorrectly as I feel this was.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melynda

    A lovely and moving account of a young 15-year old girl who was saved from the atrocities of Nazi-occupied Austria by her parent's heart-wrenching decision to send her to England via the Kindertransport. "The Children of Willesden Lane" is a testament of the power of music to heal a broken heart and the triumph of the human spirit.

  11. 4 out of 5

    momma.hailey

    What a special memoir. Throughout the book I found myself crying at the immensity of the situation. My daughter was gifted this book and we decided to read it together to discuss. We look forward to seeing the authors performance next month at our local theatre.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hillary Peters

    I read this book by English class. I really like this book, I don't know how to explain it...it's touchy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joy H.

    Added 7/2/19 Published November 1st 2003 by Grand Central Publishing (first published May 25th 2002) I posted the following online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wisdo... ==================================== I love the following quote about MUSIC. "Music will give you strength... It will be your best friend in life." ---Mona Golabek ABOVE IS FROM THE BOOK: _The Children of Willesden Lane_ , a book by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen. (A memoir of music, love and survival) On VPR Radio in 2003, it stated Added 7/2/19 Published November 1st 2003 by Grand Central Publishing (first published May 25th 2002) I posted the following online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wisdo... ==================================== I love the following quote about MUSIC. "Music will give you strength... It will be your best friend in life." ---Mona Golabek ABOVE IS FROM THE BOOK: _The Children of Willesden Lane_ , a book by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen. (A memoir of music, love and survival) On VPR Radio in 2003, it stated that the book "traces her family's passion for music back three generations. The story begins in the shadow of the Holocaust, as her grandmother sends her mother away from Austria, with a command to always keep music close to her heart. We also hear Mona Golabek play some of the music that was most important to her mother, including Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) and Edvard Grieg (1843-1907). The book was published November 1st 2003 by Grand Central Publishing (first published May 25th 2002) PS- I also remember the quote as: “Hold onto your music. It will be your best friend in life.” -----I originally heard it on VPR Radio on 5/9/03. The quote was included in the promo for 'Performance Today.' Pianist /author, Mona Golabek, said it was advice given by her grandmother to her mother. To sum up, I prefer the following version of the quote: ---“HOLD ONTO YOUR MUSIC. IT WILL BE YOUR BEST FRIEND IN LIFE."

  14. 5 out of 5

    MaryLibrarianOH

    Audiobook for this is amazing. Great read for War that Saved My Life fans and those who liked the Echo audiobook (this audio has piano music). Based on a real piano prodigy, Jewish girl who escapes to England during WWII.

  15. 4 out of 5

    MacKenzie Russell

    I remember reading this book in 7th grade and loving it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matthew McCall

    Really good and detailed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Allison Sirovy

    I cried. The end.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Judie

    Lisa Jura had lived in Vienna her entire life. When she was a child, it became apparent that she was a musical prodigy. Her gift for playing the piano took her to the best teacher Vienna had to offer. Those lessons came to an abrupt end when the Nazis invaded Austria and the Jews there had to live under extreme restrictions. She was fourteen years old. When she learned her teacher, Professor Isseles, could no longer teach her, she felt she could no longer play the piano because she was too upse Lisa Jura had lived in Vienna her entire life. When she was a child, it became apparent that she was a musical prodigy. Her gift for playing the piano took her to the best teacher Vienna had to offer. Those lessons came to an abrupt end when the Nazis invaded Austria and the Jews there had to live under extreme restrictions. She was fourteen years old. When she learned her teacher, Professor Isseles, could no longer teach her, she felt she could no longer play the piano because she was too upset. Her mother, also a pianist, said, “Oh, Lisa, have you forgotten all I’ve taught you? It’s at times like this that your music is most important....Your music will help you through–let it be your best friend. That message stayed with her and helped her survive the next years of her life. Her parents were able to get her on the Kindertransport which took children living in Nazi controlled areas of Europe to safety in England. She had a cousin living there, whom she had never met, who agreed to take her in until it was safe to reunite her with her parents. But when she arrived in England, her cousin met her at the train and said they would not be able to have her stay with them. Lisa was sent to live with a family in England in exchange for working around the home. After awhile, though, she realized she did not want to remain there. She wanted to get to a city where she could continue with her piano lessons. She was reassigned to a hostel on Willesden Lane in London. There she saw other children with the same sadness. “It was odd, she thought, how being with others like herself made her fears easier to endure. There was a piano in the house and she was able to play it at times, providing comfort and hope to the other children living there. There were thirty children living there. The owner had a son, Hans. When he came home, he spent time with her at the piano in a adversarial manner. She soon realized Hans was blind. “How lucky I am, she thought. She had spent so much time thinking about how terrible things were and how worried she felt about her parents and [sister] Rosie that she hadn’t had time to be grateful–grateful for [her sister] Sonia’s escape, grateful for her own freedom. She knew God had given her a gift, and she vowed to use this gift to its fullest. She would practice and practice; she would fulfill the promise she had made to her mother. THE CHILDREN OF WILLESDEN LANE, written by Lisa’s daughter, Mona Golabek, tells the story of what life was like for children whose lives were disrupted as well as saved by being sent to England in the Kindertransport. Many of them found homes only to be treated as servants. Others were more fortunate and were able to blossom despite not being able to be in contact with their families or knowing what happened to them. Lisa was one of the luckier ones but she was well aware of what was happening to other Jewish children. One of her friends was arrested the day he turned eighteen because he wasn’t in the military. Lisa told her story to her daughter who was also a trained pianist. In 2002, Mona Golabek wrote it down to share those memories with others. More than ten years later, Mona increased the audience for hearing her mother’s story by developing a one-woman production in which she told the story and played the music that was so vital to her mother. After I saw the performance, which was wonderful, I read the book. It is well-written and brought the experiences of these children to life. Lisa’s story, what it says about her, her experiences, and her courage as well as what she witnessed adds a new dimension and an important layer to the story of the Holocaust.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karin Mika

    I saw the musical play based on this book and found it to be a sad and exceptional story. Although this book might be characterized as young adult nonfiction because it sanitizes language and events, the story is still exceptionally moving. The author of the book is the daughter of Lisa Jura who was sent to England by her Austrian (Vienna) parents on the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport was set up so that Jewish families could send their children to England in order to be safe from the terro I saw the musical play based on this book and found it to be a sad and exceptional story. Although this book might be characterized as young adult nonfiction because it sanitizes language and events, the story is still exceptionally moving. The author of the book is the daughter of Lisa Jura who was sent to England by her Austrian (Vienna) parents on the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport was set up so that Jewish families could send their children to England in order to be safe from the terror of the Nazis. English families volunteered to take in refugee children. The story is quite horrifying to read given what is happening in the world today. Lisa Jura had the gift of being able to play piano, and in her hostel on Willesden Lane, she and the other Jewish refugee children try to get by during the war, making some type of life while terrified thinking about what might be happening to their families in Europe, as well as the near nightly air raids in London. Lisa's contribution is friendship, and playing the piano. Through a group effort Lisa is even able to be educated at the Royal Music Academy. Although sanitized, the stories of the air raids are horrifying, as are the stories about those family members who died fighting. One of the most poignant images was the author's description about how, each year, you never knew where the crocuses would pop up because the bombing threw the bulbs everywhere. The people of London even saw crocuses growing in between sandbags. The author also gives a terrifying firsthand account of Kristallnacht and her father being stripped naked and beaten by the Nazis. She describes her peers whose parents, who were prominent Germans as well as soldiers in the German army, were ostracized and persecuted because they were Jewish. The damage done to these children was incredible, and even in England, some of the kids were placed in internment camps because they were of German ethnicity. The irony of being persecuted for being German and then being interned for being German was not lost on me. In the end it is discovered that Jura's parents were taken to Auschwitz, and that most of the family members of the adults and Children from Willesden Lane were similarly killed. Jura's younger sister made it to England on another Kindertransport, and Jura's older sister and spouse survived by running and hiding for the entirety of the war. I realize the book is supposed to be an uplifting book about following one's dreams, and how music can raise the spirit in the darkest of times, but it is hard for me to see beyond the despicable picture of humankind presented to feel uplifted by the story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    iLa

    I loved this book. Loved the audio version - getting to hear the piano pieces being played occasionally and the couple of audio clips from the day. Love that it is about Mona's mother. Incredible story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Heller

    I love The Children of Willesden Lane because it is an inspiring book. I also love this book because I love music and I play the piano. The Children of Willesden Lane also shows the wonderful power of community and children to come together in times of need. I highly recommend this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    The other reviewers' reviews were spot on. It's difficult to think anything good came from Hitler and his annihilation of over six million people. This is one of the few positive stories I've read on WWII. The story unfolds as Lisa Jura is torn from her family in an effort to save her. She is one of 1000s of young children who were part of the Kindertransport, taking the young away from their families and sent to Britain during the early days of WWII. Lisa is a child prodigy, a learned piano pla The other reviewers' reviews were spot on. It's difficult to think anything good came from Hitler and his annihilation of over six million people. This is one of the few positive stories I've read on WWII. The story unfolds as Lisa Jura is torn from her family in an effort to save her. She is one of 1000s of young children who were part of the Kindertransport, taking the young away from their families and sent to Britain during the early days of WWII. Lisa is a child prodigy, a learned piano player, whose mother told her, as she was sent away, to always remember her music. And it was her music that brought comfort and security not only to Lisa, but the children of Willesden Lane where she lived for many years. During her stay at the hostel for refugee children (once in Britain, Lisa's sponsor said he could not afford for her to live with his family), Lisa never gave up hope that she would one day be reunited with her older sister Rosie, or her younger sister, Sonia. She learned about life in those years, making friends, working hard to earn money (to buy her younger sister a spot on the train, if she could only find a sponsor) and using her music to help her through bombing raids and tough times. The story introduces us to the kindness that strangers offered the refugees, the hardships during war, and, like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind (a movie Lisa loved), Lisa learned never give up. Lisa's talent and hard work earned her the respect of the other refugees, her boss, and the woman who watched over her. She dedicated her nonworking hours to perfecting her music, always remembering what her parents told her about using music to help her through life. Eventually, Lisa applied for a music scholarship, received it, and become a well known pianist. The story truly is about music, love and survival.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Reagan C.

    I have never felt that close to history before reading this book. I came across this book and it caught my attention with the presence of piano in the story. However, I had no clue that what came with it was such a distressing background. During WW2, Jewish children in Germany were sent to the United Kingdom to avoid the Nazis. The protagonist of the book, Lisa had the opportunity to board the train and arrive in an orphanage after rounds of obstacles. Besides her family, playing the piano meant I have never felt that close to history before reading this book. I came across this book and it caught my attention with the presence of piano in the story. However, I had no clue that what came with it was such a distressing background. During WW2, Jewish children in Germany were sent to the United Kingdom to avoid the Nazis. The protagonist of the book, Lisa had the opportunity to board the train and arrive in an orphanage after rounds of obstacles. Besides her family, playing the piano meant everything to her. Lisa continued pursuing her dream of being a concert pianist in the UK. She brought the music with her into the orphanage, where she met new friends that meant a lot to her. Lisa worked hard, practiced hard and got into the Royal Academy of Music despite facing many hardships. What Lisa had to go through was absolutely devastating. People were coming and going in the orphanage as bombs were threatening their lives and she lost a few of her friends to the war. I cannot help comparing myself to Lisa. She had to experience more than what I have to at my age. I cannot imagine how I could leave my family and survive in a foreign country by myself, knowing I would not see my parents again. I felt so close to what was happening in the story as if I was standing in the group of young people, who were all ambitious to strife and survive in the war. I could feel how the war tore people apart and brought people together. This book reflects a story that shows warmth and love in the war. It is a true story that is genuine, moving and inspirational. It has given me the realisation of how fortunate my generation is to be educated and sheltered under a safe environment. This book is definitely recommended to those who is looking for a heart-warming story.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ruby Tuesday

    I just adored this book hence the five stars. Lisa Jura was a Viennese Jew and a talented Pianist as a young teenager. Her world was turned upside down after Kristallnacht when she saw her father beaten and forced to scrub the streets whilst stripped naked. Her parents had the foresight to realised that the situation was getting worse and managed to secure one place for one of their three daughters on the Kindertransport which was a train carrying Jewish children to Britain and hence safety prior I just adored this book hence the five stars. Lisa Jura was a Viennese Jew and a talented Pianist as a young teenager. Her world was turned upside down after Kristallnacht when she saw her father beaten and forced to scrub the streets whilst stripped naked. Her parents had the foresight to realised that the situation was getting worse and managed to secure one place for one of their three daughters on the Kindertransport which was a train carrying Jewish children to Britain and hence safety prior to the beginning of WWII. Her mothers passing message is that she mustn't forget her music which has always been both of their passions. On the day of her departure Lisa packs sheet music of Debussy's Clair de lune, a piece that she associates with her mother. After working initially as a ladies maid, she leaves her employer and ends up in a Jewish refuge Hostel at Willesden Lane, London. I loved the descriptions of her friendships with the other children/young adults in the hostel, the images of Wartime London and the music that she played. The matron of the hostel recognises Lisa's talent for music and encourages her to practise daily on the Hostel's piano. She eventually auditions for a scholarship at a leading London music college. The story takes us all through the war years until D Day and a little beyond. I've read several books about the Kindertransport. If you enjoy this book you'll also love Other People's houses by Lori Segal, another 'Kinder'. There is also a superb documentary about the Kindertransport called 'Into the Arms of strangers' which helps to understand the emotions that the children went through when leaving their parents and the pressure on arrival to try and get them out of danger and into Britain by any means possible.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Deena

    This is a fascinating, nuanced, and beautifully written book. While it by no means represents the experiences of all the kindertransport children, it provides a detailed description of the journey of several. It also gives us a very different view of the British home front, adding a nice depth to the narrative. Despite being written by the protagonist's daughter, it doesn't pull any punches: Lisa's dedication to her music occasionally led to emotions and behaviors that could be read as selfishne This is a fascinating, nuanced, and beautifully written book. While it by no means represents the experiences of all the kindertransport children, it provides a detailed description of the journey of several. It also gives us a very different view of the British home front, adding a nice depth to the narrative. Despite being written by the protagonist's daughter, it doesn't pull any punches: Lisa's dedication to her music occasionally led to emotions and behaviors that could be read as selfishness or self-centeredness (as is often the case in the employment of such talent, and I say that without criticism or judgment), and the reader is shown that. But the most important aspect of Lisa's story, and the most telling about what the people in it endured during those years, is the inspiration that the people around her derived from that dedication and from the music itself. My only argument with this book, and it is a slight one stemming from my own background, is that it might have been a good choice to present it as a novelization (as Keneally did with Schindler). Not only is it derived from Lisa's memory, but then from Mona's as well. This is not to say that it is not credible, but my inner historian says that methodologically the conversations (and there are many) can in most cases only be "based on" or recreations of the type of thing that was probably said in such a circumstance. Further, the Author's Note points out that several characters are amalgamations of more than one person (again, as Keneally did in Schindler's List. That's not a bad thing; indeed, I tend to get irritated by a cast of too many characters to keep straight. But it might have made sense to categorize the "memoir" as a novelization. This is a quick read, and well worth it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    In this poignant memoir, Mona Golabek takes readers on an unforgettable journey through the life of her mother, Lisa Juda, during the terrifying years of World War II. Only fourteen and living in Vienna with her two sisters and parents, the import of Hitler’s regime becomes startlingly clear to Lisa when her piano teacher tells her that he can no longer teach her because she is Jewish. Kristallnacht occurs soon afterward, and Lisa’s parents know that it their home is no longer safe. They secure In this poignant memoir, Mona Golabek takes readers on an unforgettable journey through the life of her mother, Lisa Juda, during the terrifying years of World War II. Only fourteen and living in Vienna with her two sisters and parents, the import of Hitler’s regime becomes startlingly clear to Lisa when her piano teacher tells her that he can no longer teach her because she is Jewish. Kristallnacht occurs soon afterward, and Lisa’s parents know that it their home is no longer safe. They secure a treasured ticket on the Kindertransport and arrange for Lisa to travel to her father’s cousin in London. However, there is no place for her with her relatives, and after working as a servant for several months, Lisa ends up at Willesden Lane, a home for child refugees. Under the care of Mrs. Cohen, Lisa obtains a job and adjusts to her new life, yet never forgets her family, especially as the war reaches England. A musical prodigy, Lisa continues to play as a tribute to her mother, who told her to use her gift. Despite the hardships and horror of war, Lisa remains an inspiration to those around her as she works to accomplish her dream of becoming a concert pianist. With its simple language and heartrending honesty, this memoir is a beautifully evocative portrayal of a teenager’s life as a refugee, a unique narrative that is certain to stir a chord with readers.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paola Cardenas

    The Children of Willesden Lane tells the story of Lisa Jura, a talented pianist, and her experience during WW2. Lisa along with her two sisters and parents lived a wonderful life in Vienna until the Nazis came along and destroyed it. At a very young age, Lisa is sent to London by her parents to escape the danger the Jews faced in Lisa’s hometown and to help her pursue her dreams of becoming a great pianist. Lisa ends up in an orphanage in Willesden Lane where she learns how to be an independent The Children of Willesden Lane tells the story of Lisa Jura, a talented pianist, and her experience during WW2. Lisa along with her two sisters and parents lived a wonderful life in Vienna until the Nazis came along and destroyed it. At a very young age, Lisa is sent to London by her parents to escape the danger the Jews faced in Lisa’s hometown and to help her pursue her dreams of becoming a great pianist. Lisa ends up in an orphanage in Willesden Lane where she learns how to be an independent young woman and keeps practicing the piano, just as her mother always told her to. After working in a factory for many years, missing her family, losing the love of her life, and having endless piano practices, Lisa achieves her life goal; becoming a performing pianist. A theme that is often present throughout the book is motivation because there were many times where Lisa questioned why she was alive if she had lost the people she loved. Nevertheless, a simple picture of her family that she kept as well as the children in the orphanage motivated her to get better at playing the piano and make something out of herself. Overall, this was a good read because the pace of it was very smooth and always kept me wanting to read more. This book will provoke tears, smiles, laughs, sadness, and respect for the legacy of music that Lisa has passed on to her family.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dree

    Author Mona Golabek (and journalist Lee Cohen) tells her mother's story--A Jewish girl from Vienna, her parents got her a spot on a Kindertransport train. She spent WWII in London, living in a hostel of similar children. With the help of a Quaker neighbor, they found her younger sister a Quaker sponsor in northern England. Her mother had taken serious piano lessons, and manages to continue. I pulled this book off of the adult nonfiction shelves at the library (biography section). As an adult biog Author Mona Golabek (and journalist Lee Cohen) tells her mother's story--A Jewish girl from Vienna, her parents got her a spot on a Kindertransport train. She spent WWII in London, living in a hostel of similar children. With the help of a Quaker neighbor, they found her younger sister a Quaker sponsor in northern England. Her mother had taken serious piano lessons, and manages to continue. I pulled this book off of the adult nonfiction shelves at the library (biography section). As an adult biography, this book would be disappointing. But, truly, I believe this should be in the YA section. This tells the story of Lisa Jura from ages 12-21, as she is separated from her family. It tells the story of Lisa's first love and first kiss--a true coming of age story in a horrible time. In spite of the wartime horrors, it is surprisingly sanitary and upbeat. Ages 10 and up, perhaps younger for children familiar with Holocaust history. Though the author tells us what happened to Mrs Cohen, Hans, Gunter, etc, she does not mention Mrs Canfield or the Bates family (Quakers)--which seems a huge omission after the amount of text devoted to finding a sponsor for Sonia. Did the nuns return? What about Mr Hardesty and the Kindertransport workers? What about Mrs McRae from the factory? Did Lisa Jura or Sonia keep in touch with any of these people? Did the author try to find them?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Darcie

    The Children of Willesden Lane is a nonfiction story about Mona Colabek's mother Lisa Jura and her life growing up as a teenager in World War II. Lisa was a very talented pianist, but as Hitler invaded Vienna her love and talent for playing the piano was put to a slight stand by. Lisa's family only had one enough room in the Kindertrasport for one child so they decided to send Lisa to safety in London at a home on Willesden Lane, for children during the war. The theme of this book is about findi The Children of Willesden Lane is a nonfiction story about Mona Colabek's mother Lisa Jura and her life growing up as a teenager in World War II. Lisa was a very talented pianist, but as Hitler invaded Vienna her love and talent for playing the piano was put to a slight stand by. Lisa's family only had one enough room in the Kindertrasport for one child so they decided to send Lisa to safety in London at a home on Willesden Lane, for children during the war. The theme of this book is about finding hope in the things you love, even when tragic events are going on around you. Its about finding the light in a dark room. Lisa was separated from her family but yet she still manages to give others hope and uplift their spirits by playing the piano. Mona wrote this book to share the life her mother had and to show a glimpse of life during the war. Overall I thought this book was touching, I love learning about World War II and the different stories everyone has to tell. I thought this book was wrote beautifully but it took me a long time to read through the book because I didn't find it very interesting while reading. I would recommend this book to anyone researching World War II or to anyone that has an interest in nonfiction stories about peoples lives.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Contrary to my past experiences flaking out on book groups, I've joined another book group. I went to the meeting last month and was able to fudge my way through, despite the fact that I hadn't read the book. I decided not to do that again, and read this one in advance of the next meeting. I read the book in one evening. Suffice it to say, it's a quick and easy read. It is so heavy handed with themes of courage, fear, and survival that it seems a bit like a parable, though I know that isn't the a Contrary to my past experiences flaking out on book groups, I've joined another book group. I went to the meeting last month and was able to fudge my way through, despite the fact that I hadn't read the book. I decided not to do that again, and read this one in advance of the next meeting. I read the book in one evening. Suffice it to say, it's a quick and easy read. It is so heavy handed with themes of courage, fear, and survival that it seems a bit like a parable, though I know that isn't the author's intent, b/c the author is the daughter of the protagonist and wrote the book to tell her mother's story. In any event, the "parable" feeling made me feel like the book was kind of juvenile. On the other hand, I didn't know anything about Kindertransport and generally find tales of WWII and the persecution of the Jews to be heart-rending -- and this book was no exception. The heroine, aka, the author's mother, is a tremendous talent and a tremendous spirit, and you're rooting for her from the first page. Overall, quick and easy and I liked it.

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