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Bookshop in Berlin

One Woman's Flight from the Nazis

«Moving, heartbreaking and impactful»

Umut Reviews (blog)

Initially published as No Place to Lay One's Head - the unforgettable story of one woman's struggle to survive persecution in wartime France

In 1921, Françoise Frenkel-a Jewish woman from Poland-opens Berlin's very first French bookshop. Les mer

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Initially published as No Place to Lay One's Head - the unforgettable story of one woman's struggle to survive persecution in wartime France

In 1921, Françoise Frenkel-a Jewish woman from Poland-opens Berlin's very first French bookshop. It is a dream come true. The bookshop attracts artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. It brings Françoise peace, friendship and prosperity. Then, in the summer of 1939, the dream ends and Françoise's desperate, headlong flight from Nazi persecution begins.

Unfolding in Berlin, Paris and against the romantic landscapes of southern France, A Bookshop in Berlin is a heartbreaking tale of human cruelty and unending kindness; and of a woman whose lust for life refuses to leave her, even in her darkest hours.


Pushkin Press Classics
20 x 13 cm

Om forfatteren

Very little is known about Françoise Frenkel's life. She was born in Poland in 1889, and in 1921 set up the first French-language bookshop in Berlin with her husband. In 1939, she returned to Paris, and after the German invasion the following year fled to occupied Vichy. After several years in hiding, she made a desperate attempt to cross the border to Switzerland. Frenkel died in Nice in 1975. Her memoir, originally published in Geneva in 1945, was rediscovered in a flea market in 2010, republished in the original French and is now being translated and published in numerous languages for the first time.

Stephanie Smee is a translator of French adult and children's books into English. Her other languages include German, Italian and Swedish.


«Moving, heartbreaking and impactful»

Umut Reviews (blog)

«I have no hesitation in saying it will remain high on my list for the rest of the year... I raced through the book in a couple of sessions - it's extremely moving and as enthralling as a thriller, and should undoubtedly become a classic»

Shiny New Books (blog)

«A moving novel about one woman's escape from persecution and humanity's ability to remain generous in the most brutal time - a CUB must-read!»

Cub Magazine

«An important and haunting book - fragmentary, disturbing and dark, yet delicately and lightly written»

The Lady Magazine

«Poignant love letter to literature»

Clare Mulley, Spectator, Books of the Year

«A book that wholly merits publication... it's rare to find an account of the camps that's so feisty and eccentric»

Lara Feigel, Telegraph

«An astonishing memoir... as gripping as any thriller... stark and chilling... we owe [Frenkel] a huge debt of gratitude. In sharing her bitter taste of bitter history, she has shown us the worst of humanity - but also the best»

Christina Patterson, Sunday Times

«This remarkable survivor's memoir - a French equivalent to the anonymous A Woman in Berlin, and a non-fiction counterpoint, as it were, to Némirovsky's Suite Française... Terribly moving and terribly haunting... It's a surprisingly measured book about one woman's immeasurable sorrow that everyone should hold in their hands»

Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph (five stars)

«A vital addition to these eyewitness accounts [Anne Frank and Suite Française]... an appealing style, captured in an assured translation by Stephanie Smee. There is a wild beauty to the prose... sharply specific... unbearably sad»

Financial Times

«A remarkable lost-then-found account that appears in English for the first time... It stands as both an illuminating depiction of wartime France and a gripping and affecting personal account of endurance and defiance.. the reader roots for [Frenkel] every step of the way»


«We can only remain grateful to the constellation of luck and change that allowed, first, Frenkel's survival, and now, the recovery of her exceptional book»

Wall Street Journal


Telegraph, Books of the Year

«A lost classic of mysterious provenance, Frenkel's tale and prose is utterly compelling, at once painful and exquisite»

Philippe Sands, author of 'East West Street'

«This account is particularly vital... riveting... Frenkel's portrait of a people she loved is a complex and unsettling view of humanity, in all its shifting shades»


«Tells of the writer's incredible escape from the Nazis»


«An important, shocking and haunting book - fragmentary, disturbing and dark, yet delicately and lightly written»

The Lady (five stars)

«Clear, compelling, unsentimental prose»

Arifa Akbar, JQ-Wingate Literary Prize Judge

«Just when it seems there is nothing else to be said on this subject, here is a book of compelling freshness»

Literary Review

«A found treasure... filled with wisdom and hope»

The Bookseller

«A poignant love letter to literature, freedom and shared humanity, carrying its message of solace and encouragement both in and on its pages»

History Today

«Terribly moving and terribly haunting - Frenkel has the mournful presence of a ghost; even as she breathes on her mirror into Occupied France, she is being made to vanish before our eyes»

Nicholas Shakespeare, author of 'Priscilla, The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France

«Frenkel writes with a novelist's observing eye: her cool detachment in the heat of persecution and attempted flight brings both the bureaucratic and human cruelty of life under Nazi occupation into startling relief. Every dangerous detail, every helping hand is luminously present. This is a memoir that has the terrible precarity of lived experience. It's the real thing. I cried and still couldn't put it down»

Lisa Appignanesi, author of 'Losing the Dead'

«A bitter, beautiful and important book»

Robert Fisk

«Françoise Frenkel's memoir offers a reminder never to disdain jumble»

Jewish Chronicle

«Brimming with humanity... this curious, gripping, delicate yet commanding memoir... a voice that looks across cultures and faiths, races and historical moments, uniting all that is noblest into a quiet statement of perseverance, endurance, resilience»


«The story told with such clarity, thanks to the seamless and skilful translation by Stephanie Smee, becomes a breathless account of all the people who take her in and help her survive in the darkest times»

The Times of Israel

«Harrowing and beautifully written, it is both an astonishing historical account of surviving the horrors of the Second World War and a timeless story about the importance of empathy and resilience in the most difficult times»

Pendora Magazine

«A fascinating personal account... timely given our current situation... a lesson in the importance of retaining our humanity, whatever indoctrination is being disseminated on behalf of self-serving politicians»

Never Imitate blog

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