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Exile Music: Book summary and reviews of Exile Music by Jennifer Steil

Exile Music

by Jennifer Steil

Exile Music by Jennifer Steil X
Exile Music by Jennifer Steil
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  • Published in USA  May 2020
    432 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Based on an unexplored slice of World War II history, Exile Music is the captivating story of a young Jewish girl whose family flees refined and urbane Vienna for safe harbor in the mountains of Bolivia.

As a young girl growing up in Vienna in the 1930s, Orly has an idyllic childhood filled with music. Her father plays the viola in the Philharmonic, her mother is a well-regarded opera singer, her beloved and charismatic older brother holds the neighborhood in his thrall, and most of her eccentric and wonderful extended family live nearby. Only vaguely aware of Hitler's rise or how her Jewish heritage will define her family's identity, Orly spends her days immersed in play with her best friend and upstairs neighbor, Anneliese. Together they dream up vivid and elaborate worlds, where they can escape the growing tensions around them.

But in 1938, Orly's peaceful life is shattered when the Germans arrive. Her older brother flees Vienna first, and soon Orly, her father, and her mother procure refugee visas for La Paz, a city high up in the Bolivian Andes. Even as the number of Jewish refugees in the small community grows, her family is haunted by the music that can no longer be their livelihood, and by the family and friends they left behind. While Orly and her father find their footing in the mountains, Orly's mother grows even more distant, harboring a secret that could put their family at risk again. Years pass, the war ends, and Orly must decide: Is the love and adventure she has found in La Paz what defines home, or is the pull of her past in Europe--and the piece of her heart she left with Anneliese--too strong to ignore?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A beautiful coming-of-age tale...Moving, evocative, and well-researched, this is sure to linger in readers' minds long after the last page has been turned." - Booklist (starred review)

"Steil expertly weaves historical details into this immersive narrative, complete with a focus on the impact of music in the characters' lives. Steil's evocative look at a lesser-explored corner of WWII is well worth picking up." - Publishers Weekly

"Grief, vengeance, and elements of restoration wind through Orly's coming to terms with the past and her future, an important and touching journey though one that is diffused by its indulgent pacing. An empathetic revisiting of horrific history rendered less conventional for a Holocaust novel by its unusual setting." - Kirkus Reviews

"Gorgeous and lyrical, Exile Music captures the delicate rhythm of one girl's coming of age while driven by war and exile. Heart-wrenching, tender and powerful." - Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Searching for Sylvie Lee

"Out of this little-known corner of history, Steil offers a beautiful meditation on the things we all hold dear - family, friendship, home. My Beautiful Friend meets The Pianist in this elegant symphony of a novel." - Ruth Gilligan, author of Nine Folds Makes a Paper Swan

"This riveting, elegantly rendered coming-of-age story sheds light on the community of Jewish refugees who found sanctuary in La Paz, Bolivia. With vivid historical details and unforgettable characters, Exile Music captures the heartbreak of exile, the painful scars of survival, and the redemptive power of art." - Amy Gottlieb, author of The Beautiful Possible

"A celebration of the redemptive power of love, art and music in the face of the cataclysms of history, this novel weaves a powerful spell. I fell in love with Orly, a keeper of secrets and stories, who holds her family together by force of will when it seems certain they will fray apart. In prose of vivid beauty and lyrical toughness, Steil illuminates the life of the émigré with moments of unexpected kindness, tension, tragedy and triumph." - Ariel Kahn, author of Raising Sparks

The information about Exile Music shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Jennifer Steil

Jennifer Steil is the author of two previous books, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, a memoir of her experience as a journalist in Yemen, and The Ambassador's Wife, a novel about a hostage crisis that was also inspired by Steil's own experience. She currently lives in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, with her husband and daughter.

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