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Description

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This wonderfully charming memoir, written when the author was 93, vibrantly brings to life an all-but-forgotten time and place. It is a moving tale of working-class life, and of the boundaries that can be overcome by love.

“There are places that I have never forgotten. A little cobbled street in a smoky mill town in the North of England has haunted me for the greater part of my life. It was inevitable that I should write about it and the people who lived on both sides of its ‘Invisible Wall.’ ”

The narrow street where Harry Bernstein grew up, in a small English mill town, was seemingly unremarkable. It was identical to countless other streets in countless other working-class neighborhoods of the early 1900s, except for the “invisible wall” that ran down its center, dividing Jewish families on one side from Christian families on the other. Only a few feet of cobblestones separated Jews from Gentiles, but socially, it they were miles apart.

On the eve of World War I, Harry’s family struggles to make ends meet. His father earns little money at the Jewish tailoring shop and brings home even less, preferring to spend his wages drinking and gambling. Harry’s mother, devoted to her children and fiercely resilient, survives on her dreams: new shoes that might secure Harry’s admission to a fancy school; that her daughter might marry the local rabbi; that the entire family might one day be whisked off to the paradise of America.

Then Harry’s older sister, Lily, does the unthinkable: She falls in love with Arthur, a Christian boy from across the street.

When Harry unwittingly discovers their secret affair, he must choose between the morals he’s been taught all his life, his loyalty to his selfless mother, and what he knows to be true in his own heart.

Review

“Harry Bernstein returns home and, magically, takes us with him. With its dancing prose and captivating descriptions of neighborhood life, we experience with the child Harry all the wonder, thrill, and heartbreak of being a working-class kid learning to navigate the balkanized world of Christians and Jews within a single English mill town. Bernstein gives us a people’s history, a street-level perspective on a world that might otherwise have been lost, with crucial lessons that will endure throughout time.”
—Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls

“[An] affecting debut memoir . . . When major world events touch the poverty-stricken block, the individual coming-of-age story is intensified without being trivialized, and the conversational account takes on the heft of a historical novel with stirring success.”
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

About the Author

Ninety-six-year-old Harry Bernstein emigrated to the United States with his family after World War I. He has written all his life but started writing The Invisible Wall only after the death of his wife, Ruby. He has been published in “My Turn” in Newsweek. Bernstein lives in Brick, New Jersey, where he is working on another book.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

It was one of those rare summer evenings when it did not rain, and the smoke cleared from the atmosphere, leaving the sky a deep blue color, and the air soft and fresh and balmy. It was the kind of evening when people brought their stiff-backed wooden kitchen chairs out to the front to sit and smoke, and perhaps listen to the Forshaws’ gramophone. They were the only people on our street who had one, and they left their door open so that everyone could hear. In the meantime, the sun would sink, a huge red ball, behind the square brick tower of the India Mill. After it disappeared, there would be fiery streaks in the sky, and these would fade gradually as the sky became very pale, and twilight would fall gently, and you would see the glow of pipes or cigarettes along both sides of the street.

We had finished our tea, and my two sisters had quickly disappeared before my mother could get them to clear the table and wash up. My two brothers were about to do the same. Having gulped down the last of their tea, and still chewing on their bread and butter, they were halfway out the door to join their friends in the street when my mother stopped them.

“Take ’arry with you,” she said.

They stared at her in astonishment, not believing what they had heard. Well, I too was surprised.

But my surprise was a pleasant one. Until now I had been the baby of the family, too young to go out and play with them, though I’d always wanted to and had watched them go with silent yearning. Now suddenly all this was changed. I looked up at them, my finger in my mouth, waiting, hopefully, for my fate to be decided.

“Him?” said Joe. He was the oldest of the three boys, big for his nine years, and handsome, too. He spoke as if he couldn’t believe what he had heard. “Him?” he repeated.

“He’s only a baby,” screeched Saul in his high-pitched voice. Saul was a bare year and a half older than I, but considered himself my senior by far.

“He’s not a baby anymore,” my mother said, firmly. “He’s old enough now to go out and play with you and the other boys.”

“But he’ll get in the way,” they both wailed. “He doesn’t know how to play.”

“He’ll soon learn,” my mother insisted. “I don’t want him to stay in the house on a nice night like this, and I’ve got a lot of work to do in the house, otherwise I’d take him out myself. Go on now, take him with you, and mind you keep an eye on him and don’t let him wander off by himself.”

They had no choice, and each one of them took a hand savagely, bitterly, and pulled me out with them. But once outside, and once they caught sight of the other Jewish boys from our side a little distance off, they dropped my hands and rushed toward them, forgetting all about me and ignoring my mother’s warning completely. I trotted after them, and that was about all I was able to do throughout the evening. I was not able to participate in any of the games they played. I simply hung on the fringe of the group. I was ecstatic at having that much, though, at simply being allowed to be with them. I shouted when they shouted, jumped up when they jumped, and imitated all their sounds and movements.

I forget the games they played that night, but the locale was constantly shifted from one part of the street to another. We drifted down to the bottom, then back upward. Eventually we landed at the very top, at the corner in front of the Harris’s house, where they began a noisy game of hopscotch.

This one I do recall, and also that it had grown darker. Twilight would linger for a long time yet, until almost midnight, but it had reached the stage where the sides of the street were becoming hidden in shadow, and the glow of pipes and cigarettes stood out strongly. The sky looked almost white in contrast to the earth, and the outlines of roofs and chimneys were etched sharply against it. We could barely see the chalk marks that had been scribbled on the sidewalk, but that made no difference, and the players hopped madly from square to square, shouting to one another.

In that moment of our midsummer night madness, we had failed to see two people seated outside, a little off to the right on the other side of the doorway. These were the Harrises—old Mr. Harris, who could not have been much more than forty, a squat, heavy, bearded man wearing a bowler hat beneath which was a yarmulke, squinting down at a Jewish newspaper in the fading light, and Mrs. Harris, barely forty perhaps, a little woman wearing the orthodox Jewish woman’s wig, beneath which tiny hen’s eyes peered disapprovingly across at the Christian side.

The Harrises were perhaps the most religious couple on our street. He was an important official of the little synagogue over on Chestergate Avenue that we all attended, and the yarmulke he wore beneath the bowler hat was concealed only because such things could draw laughter or jeers from the Christians, especially from the direction in which Mrs. Harris’s eyes were cast. This was the Turnbull sweets shop. Nothing was to be feared from the immobile figure of the man seated there next to the window. Mr. Turnbull had suffered a stroke some time ago, and was brought out here by his wife to sit, usually for hours, and wait until she was good and ready to bring him in. And at the moment she was in the back room drinking beer with her boarders.

The sounds of their raucous laughter and the clinking of glasses drifted out into the street. The boys Mrs. Turnbull took in were a rough lot, and a blot on the street’s reputation. They were young navvies, the ones who cleaned out the middens, or chimneys, who drank and swore, and who, when they were out on the street and in a ripe mood did not hesitate in hurling slurs about the Jews, and at the Harrises in particular if they happened to be sitting out as they were now.

Tonight, fortunately, they were indoors, but the lovely summer evening must have been marred anyway for the Harrises by our noisy presence. However, they said nothing, and tried to ignore us while the game proceeded right next to the window. As usual, I was kept out of the game, and simply added to the din by joining in the shouting and screaming now and then. But after a while I must have grown tired of this—and perhaps it was getting a bit late for me. My attention began to wander away from them, and suddenly it was caught by a movement from the window. The blind was being drawn up, and the white lace curtains were being parted, and a face showed dimly. It was smiling right at me, and a finger was beck- oning.

I didn’t need to be told who it was. It was Sarah, the youngest of the six Harris girls, and a favorite among us and everyone on the street. She was a sweet, gentle, perpetually smiling girl with lovely features, dark hair, an oval face, and a smooth, delicate complexion. She had been ill lately, and was recovering now. She spent much of her time on the red plush couch in the parlor next to the window, reading one of her little yellow-backed novels, and dipping her fingers daintily into the box of chocolates that was always at her side.

Sometimes, during the day, if we happened to be going by, she would open the window to smile and speak to us, to send some boy or girl on an errand for her perhaps, or simply to talk and to pop one of her chocolates into a lucky mouth. I had often been one of those lucky ones. I think I was one of her favorites. I know, when she was younger, perhaps even as little as a year ago, she used to come into our house to play with my sisters, and would always hug me and kiss me and call me her baby. Then she had stopped playing with my sisters, and had put her hair up. On our street this meant that you were grown up and could go to work. She had gone to work for a while in one of the tailoring shops where all the Jews worked, and then had taken ill. Here she was convalescing, and I was staring at her stupidly through the semi-darkness, wondering what all those signals meant. She was also putting a finger to her lips and shaking her head.

Then, at last, I understood. She wanted me to come in to her, but to do so quietly and secretly without anyone seeing me. That’s what it was, and I hesitated. It was much easier said than done. In the first place, her parents sat near the door. In the second place, you did not walk into the Harrises’ parlor that easily.

It was the only real parlor on our street, thanks to the Harris girls and the one boy, Sam, working and bringing in money. It was furnished in red plush, including even the carpet, a truly elegant place, but reserved for members of the family and special occasions. None of us had ever been invited into it. All we knew was what we’d glimpsed through the window and what we’d heard of it being spoken with awe.

There was something else. Sam’s bike stood in the hall, shiny and gleaming, when Sam was not using it. We’d often peeped in at it when the door was open. It was Sam’s great treasure, and he guarded it as fiercely as a lioness guarded her cub. Let one of us so much as dare creep an inch beyond the doorstep toward it, and he’d come roaring out from the back of the house, his bushy red hair standing up like a wild golliwog.

I’d seen it happen two or three times already and I was terrified of going anywhere near it. Yet I’d have to pass it if I went into the parlor. I stood hesitating for a long time, my finger in my mouth, my eyes glued on her face at the window and the beckoning, beseeching fingers, while the others hopped and screeched madly over their game of hopscotch, and the light on the street grew dimmer. Finally I decided to chance it and slipped in.

Mr. Harris was still peering down at his newspaper, closer to the print than ever, and Mrs. Harris was still burrowing with her hen’s eyes through the dusk at the shadowy figure seated across from her, so they did not see me. I saw the bike the moment I entered the hallway, silvery highlights gleaming on the handlebars, the rest scarcely visible in the darkness. I flattened myself against the wall and crept slowly toward the parlor door to avoid touching it, holding my breath as I went. Once, I halted, hearing a sound in the back of the house, a cough, the movement of feet. But after it grew silent again, I crept on.

I groped for the doorknob, found it, and turned it slowly, and went in. The room was dark, save for the patch of light from the window at the front. There was a rustling, and I saw the shadowy figure sitting upright on the couch. “Over here, luv,” she whispered.

I stumbled past bulky furniture and found my way over to her. She grasped both my arms and stared at me for a moment through the darkness. “You’ve grown so,” she said, keeping her voice down to a whisper. “You’re so big. You’re almost too big to kiss. But I will! I will!” And she did, passionately, drawing me close to her so that I caught the familiar scent of lavender that came from the sachet she always wore tucked away in her tiny bosom.

Finally, releasing me, she whispered, “Does your mother know you’re out so late, ’arry?”

“Yis.”

“Would you like to go on an errand for me?”

I nodded.

She gave a glance over my shoulder first, as if to make sure no one was there, then said, “I want you to go to Gordon’s to fetch some ginger beer. Can you do that for me?”

I nodded again, and I might have felt some surprise. It was not an unusual request, and there seemed to be no need for all her whispering and secrecy. I may not have gone to Gordon’s myself before this, but I had gone often with one of my brothers or sisters. Especially when somebody in the family was sick, because it was believed that ginger beer had medicinal qualities.

She did not stop her whispering though, and in fact glanced over my shoulder once more before she resumed. “Take this empty back with you,” she said, thrusting a bottle into my hand. “But first, ’arry”—she brought her mouth so close to my ear as she went on that I could feel the warm breath coming from it—“before you go in the shop, look to make sure Freddy’s there. I don’t want you to give the bottle to anybody except Freddy. Not Florrie, not the old man. Just Freddy. Do you understand?”

“Yis,” I said, speaking this time because the urgency of her tone seemed to demand it.

“And here’s a thrippeny bit.” She put the tiny coin into my other hand. “There’ll be a penny change and you can keep it.”

My heart leaped. A whole penny! I couldn’t wait to be off, but she held on to me a moment longer, and whispered in my ear. “Be very careful, ’arry. Don’t tell anybody where you’re going, and remember what I said, don’t let anybody wait on you, except Freddy. You look through the window first to make sure he’s there, and if he isn’t you just wait until he comes along before you go in. Do you hear me now?”

“Yis.”

Finally I was off, and I made my way out of the room much faster than I’d come in, and my excitement over the penny was so great that I bumped into Sam’s bike, and immediately a great roar came from the back of the house.

“Who’s there?”

I must have flown out of the house. I know I put all caution aside as I dashed out, and the two Harrises, catching a glimpse of me as I went past them, must have been bewildered. They were probably never able to make out what had happened, or where I’d come from, or even who I was.

All they saw was the small figure of a boy dashing across the street, disappearing into the Christian darkness.

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
517 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Bob Hoskins
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fantastic look into life in pre WW I England.
Reviewed in the United States on November 30, 2016
What a wonderful story/memoir. Set in Northern England just after the turn of the 20th century, Harry Bernstein recounts his childhood with amazing clarity. The "Invisible wall" relates to a religious divide running right down the street of his childhood. Christians... See more
What a wonderful story/memoir. Set in Northern England just after the turn of the 20th century, Harry Bernstein recounts his childhood with amazing clarity. The "Invisible wall" relates to a religious divide running right down the street of his childhood. Christians on one side, Jews on the other. Never the twain shall meet.
At that time in history, England had opened its arms to the European Jews escaping persecution. Though the Government accepted those fleeing, it seems the populace didn''t. So rose the invisible walls. Such is the divisive nature of religion.
Harry recounts the divides that separated people that lived within feet of each other. He tells of the torment he and his siblings faced daily from the Christian kids. The opportunities for Christians were not there for the Jews and so on and so on...

The two sides come together briefly from time to time. Tragedy united the two sides as families lost sons in WW I. Sometimes the wall came down and humanity won but, inevitably, the wall went back up.
Harry''s older sister did the unthinkable and married a lad from the other side of the street. The wall got higher but eventually came back down. Harry then leaves England for America and the book ends.

A short Epilogue has Harry and his wife returning to the street some 40 yrs later and this puts a fitting end to a very engaging memoir.

Summary: Highly engaging and thought provoking memoir about Northern England at the turn of the 20th century. Nothing too clever, nothing too fancy just straightforward, enjoyable reading. Highly recommended.
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Madiantin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A love song to his mother
Reviewed in the United States on November 12, 2015
I stayed up until 2.30am, because once I''d started reading I couldn''t put it down. The details of Lancashire life, while different from my own, ring as clear as the accents. Harry writes the accents perfectly and I can hear the echoes of my own family in them.... See more
I stayed up until 2.30am, because once I''d started reading I couldn''t put it down. The details of Lancashire life, while different from my own, ring as clear as the accents. Harry writes the accents perfectly and I can hear the echoes of my own family in them.

Though the story is ostensibly about Lily and Arthur, the real heroine is Harry''s mother. It broke my heart that she never found ease and prosperity. Living an appalling life with an irredeemably appalling husband, doing nothing but her best, working harder than anyone, giving everything, she was abused by husband and daughters alike. How I wish I could reach back in time and provide some ease for her. I wish I knew what happened to her husband. I wish I knew that at some point he recognized and acknowledged her worth....but I doubt he ever did. Never has such a real person been so repugnant.

This is not necessarily a comfortable book to read, however, Harry somehow imbues a heartbreaking story of poverty and suffering with warmth and hope. How did he do that?

One thing that makes me smile is later in life he works in newspapers - I hope that made his poor brother very very happy.

Definitely recommended. But for goodness'' sakes don''t start it until you have a whole day free to devote to it because you won''t be able to put it down.
6 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer. crumpy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Living Poor in the UK 19-20th centuries!
Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2015
This is a wonderful book in that it describes how it was to grow up Jewish amongst poor people on the same street in the Midlands. I found it a gripping story as told first from the view of a 4 year old boy, and then up into middle adulthood. It does not spare the crude... See more
This is a wonderful book in that it describes how it was to grow up Jewish amongst poor people on the same street in the Midlands. I found it a gripping story as told first from the view of a 4 year old boy, and then up into middle adulthood. It does not spare the crude descriptions and hard teachings of both Jews and Christians, at the time, but also incorporates the efforts of some to change and to start accepting others different from themselves. As a British expat myself I was shocked at attitudes and living conditions back then, but perhaps even more surprised to read that the attitudes of Jewish people in the U.S. was possibly even more severe at the same time! One of the best parts of the book is when both Jews and Christians were able to put their differences aside and offer each other comfort when needed!
I believe that this book and it''s story is in the league of the best sellers about the poor Irish who moved to Boston by the brothers McCourt.
4 people found this helpful
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Wendy Roberts
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Oddly compelling
Reviewed in the United States on August 14, 2016
I found this book hard to quit thinking about, even when I wasn''t reading. The idea of apartness that we impose on each other because of differences has never made a lot of sense to me and this true story points it out in oh so many ways - differences in religion, in... See more
I found this book hard to quit thinking about, even when I wasn''t reading. The idea of apartness that we impose on each other because of differences has never made a lot of sense to me and this true story points it out in oh so many ways - differences in religion, in social status, in politics, in means, in opportunities, I life stories, in ambition, I physical abilities...we seem to use these differences to ostracize each other and withdraw what we can offer! I loved seeing humanity winning out here and there, with the neighborhood party to celebrate the birth of the baby, with the toast to mend a feud, with the tickets to go to America... A good book that was entertaining, enlightening and thought-provoking. Good read!
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Lynn Kirk Hunter
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Heart wrenching; beautifully written
Reviewed in the United States on November 2, 2019
The story was disturbing at times - it was difficult for me to read about such poverty, such (unnecessary) bigotry, such painful family dynamics. I had to turn away at times. I grew up in a mixed, urban neighborhood - Christian and Jewish in the 40''s and 50''s - and my... See more
The story was disturbing at times - it was difficult for me to read about such poverty, such (unnecessary) bigotry, such painful family dynamics. I had to turn away at times.
I grew up in a mixed, urban neighborhood - Christian and Jewish in the 40''s and 50''s - and my mother taught us to love and respect everyone.
The writing is super. I wish Harry (''arry) were alive to hear what a fine story teller he is and how grateful I am to him for having shared his story with us.
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Mtlnative
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A different slice of English life
Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2015
My grandfather came from a Lancashire mill town and so I was immediately drawn into Bernstein''s description of life there. I felt that I was sitting at his knee, listening as he told story after story about growing up. Some of the stories would break off suddenly--like the... See more
My grandfather came from a Lancashire mill town and so I was immediately drawn into Bernstein''s description of life there. I felt that I was sitting at his knee, listening as he told story after story about growing up. Some of the stories would break off suddenly--like the story of Florrie and Mrs. Green''s great fight--and Bernstein would go off onto another story. Much like an elderly person reminiscing. Which, for me, made the book all the more poignant. Bernstein''s point of view, as a young boy growing up Jewish in a street that was both Jewish and Christian, fascinated me. And the events that he was privy to--family ugliness and tenderness, witnessing the effects of World War I on families, a love story that went sour, a love story that triumphed over religious barriers--were events that I could relate to as age-old human themes told in yet another voice. It may not be great literature but it is great human history.
5 people found this helpful
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A. McNamara
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Invisible Wall
Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2011
The Invisible Wall, begins when Harry Bernstein was four years old.Harry was raised in the English mill town of Stockport. His father worked in a tailor shop, while his mother struggled to feed, clothe, and educate their children. Much of his father''s meager salary went for... See more
The Invisible Wall, begins when Harry Bernstein was four years old.Harry was raised in the English mill town of Stockport. His father worked in a tailor shop, while his mother struggled to feed, clothe, and educate their children. Much of his father''s meager salary went for his drinking and gambling, and the family was poorer than most. The family were observant Jews, whose life revolved around the Sabbath and Holy Days.

The street the family lived on was populated with similar families. The Jews lived on one side of the street, and the Christians lived on the other. Down the middle of the street runs the "invisible wall" of the title. Except for attending the same schools and frequenting each others'' shops, the Christians and Jews had little to do with one another. When one Jewish girl fell in love with an unsuitable Christian boy, her family shipped her off to a relative in Australia. While there was some animosity between the two sides of the street, the families mostly co-existed in an uneasy peace.

Life changes, however, during the Great War. The families rely on each other for news of the war and of their sons. All mourn when a son is killed or wounded.

When the soldiers return from the War, the budding relationship between Harry''s sister Lily and the Christian neighbor Arthur Forshaw blossoms. Harry becomes Lily''s co-conspirator in her trysts with Arthur.

There are many poignant scenes in The Invisible Wall. This memoir reminded me of Angela''s Ashes. The ignorance and poverty of both families was strikingly similar, but The Invisible Wall was much more focused on the relationships between the Christians and Jews than the fact of the poverty.

This book tells a very sad, but true story. As in Angela''s Ashes, the redemption comes from the author''s successful life in America, a stark contrast to its meager beginning
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K. Ayers
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Worth the read!
Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2021
Excellent book. I though it shed a light on how divided we as a people can get when it''s just an illusion. People are people. Also the story was a good description of the era and how difficult it was to live in poverty. I really learned from and enjoyed the book even if... See more
Excellent book. I though it shed a light on how divided we as a people can get when it''s just an illusion. People are people. Also the story was a good description of the era and how difficult it was to live in poverty. I really learned from and enjoyed the book even if it was a difficult subject.
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Top reviews from other countries

Tegan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Lovely book about life in early 1900s in Stockport
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 8, 2021
This book is amazing telling the story of Jewish immigrants settling and growing up in Stockport in the early 1900s pre WW1 and then emigrating to New York after the war , I loved the book the Author Harry Bernstein tells the tale of his childhood which was similar to my...See more
This book is amazing telling the story of Jewish immigrants settling and growing up in Stockport in the early 1900s pre WW1 and then emigrating to New York after the war , I loved the book the Author Harry Bernstein tells the tale of his childhood which was similar to my grandads and the stories of his life and poverty in Stockport he even mentioned and named characters that my grandad had told me about it’s a lovely book there are 2 sequels that then go on to tell of his life in America first the hardships of the depression and his poor mum who died in poverty, she never got her dream , eventually better times as a script writer for MGM pictures. He returned to Stockport in the 1960s and was sad to see his old street had been condemned and was to be demolished . Hollywood towers flats now stands on the site . Both Sad and funny he was a wonderful writer.
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Scots Lass
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Moving, Heart warming, True-Life Family Story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 14, 2007
Harry Bernstein was born in 1910 and this book tells his story of growing up in an industrial town in the North of England. The youngest child, Harry has two sisters, academic Lily and waspish Rose, two brothers, Saul and Harry as well as a loving mother - and a sullen...See more
Harry Bernstein was born in 1910 and this book tells his story of growing up in an industrial town in the North of England. The youngest child, Harry has two sisters, academic Lily and waspish Rose, two brothers, Saul and Harry as well as a loving mother - and a sullen drunk for a father. The prominent issue in this book is the fact that the street in which Harry and his family reside is divided along religeous lines - Jews on one side, Christians on the other - with next to no interaction between the two sides, despite the similarities of their lives and even their work. Although the grinding poverty in which the family struggle to survive is detailed thoroughly, the individuals in the family are prominent to the story, none more that Lily - whose chance to go to Grammar school on a scholarship hinges on her mother persauding her oaf of a husband to sign a consent form. Sister Rose is discontented with life and sees the hand to mouth existence of her family for what it is - no amount of bravado from her mother will cause Rose to think fondly of her life. Harry follows in the wake of his brothers as they encounter playground battles with the Christian children and day to day insults from adults who should have known better. There is humour in the book all the same. Harry is a completely innocent go-between for an invalid girl and her would-be beau (the notes you can pass in a bottle of ginger beer!) but love across the religeous divide is more than either side can accept, and, although the first World War causes the women on both sides to mourn their losses together, the barriers cannot be completely torn down. I am no fan of "misery memoirs" as a style of book but this tale is so gripping, tragic and yet courageous that it is almost impossible to put down. I have even written to the author via the publisher to say thanks for a great read - and please hurry along with the next one! The Invisible Wall will break your heart, make you smile - and stay with you long after you read the final sentence.
5 people found this helpful
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Bookworm
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Forgotten Past
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 6, 2012
I was totally gripped by this book. It gave an insight into an era of English history that I had never really given much thought to: a sad reflection on me I fear. The clarity of description made me feel as if I knew these people and lived amongst them - Mr Bernstein''s...See more
I was totally gripped by this book. It gave an insight into an era of English history that I had never really given much thought to: a sad reflection on me I fear. The clarity of description made me feel as if I knew these people and lived amongst them - Mr Bernstein''s ability to bring you into his story is quite extraordinary and if it hasn''t been done/thought of, has the makings of a very good film or, at the very least, a television docudrama. Thank you Mr Bernstein for bringing the past alive in a compassionate, sometimes very amusing and sad way but also in an unsentimental [mushy] way: it was such a pleasure to read and I was sorry to reach the end. I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending this book and am looking forward to reading The Dream, the second in what I believe is to be a trilogy.
One person found this helpful
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Kindle Customer Ruby
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I could not put this book down
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 29, 2019
I also lived in a street where one side were Jewish and the other side Christian. We children all played out together. I cannot remember any insults being exchanged. The book brought many memories although I was born at the end of World War 2
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BeXx
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
to the point that you feel like you know the characters and are part of Harry’s ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 15, 2018
I looooved this book! The author really takes you on a journey, to the point that you feel like you know the characters and are part of Harry’s family. I really enjoyed this.
One person found this helpful
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