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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-rega 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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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-rega 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?

30 review for Exile Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    A musical family flees the holocaust by emigrating to Bolivia. To the best of my recollection, this is a little-known story. In addition to escaping the horror escalating in Austria, Orly leaves behind her best friend, the aesthetic richness of Vienna, as well as her beloved older brother and other family members. Being ten years old, she is able to adjust to the cultural differences, learn the language, and appreciate the country for what it is. Her father is able to flourish through his music A musical family flees the holocaust by emigrating to Bolivia. To the best of my recollection, this is a little-known story. In addition to escaping the horror escalating in Austria, Orly leaves behind her best friend, the aesthetic richness of Vienna, as well as her beloved older brother and other family members. Being ten years old, she is able to adjust to the cultural differences, learn the language, and appreciate the country for what it is. Her father is able to flourish through his music but her mother has less success. Filled with loss of many kinds, vengeance, growing up and building a life in a country vastly different from own’s own, ultimately hope reigns supreme.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    This fascinating, deftly-plotted and well-characterized novel by the author of The Ambassador's Wife follows a family of Jewish musicians in the 1930's, Austrian natives who never suspect that their loyalty and citizenship will be soon challenged by the darkest of political force. When, in 1939, the borders of most of the world's countries had closed to the Jews, there was still one window. Bolivia, that landlocked country whose Andean capital looms at 12,o00 feet, was accepting applications for This fascinating, deftly-plotted and well-characterized novel by the author of The Ambassador's Wife follows a family of Jewish musicians in the 1930's, Austrian natives who never suspect that their loyalty and citizenship will be soon challenged by the darkest of political force. When, in 1939, the borders of most of the world's countries had closed to the Jews, there was still one window. Bolivia, that landlocked country whose Andean capital looms at 12,o00 feet, was accepting applications for visas. Exile Music is the story of one family's emigration to that farthest shore, and encompasses several overlooked corners of history. Wisely, Steil tells her story through the eyes of their young daughter, Orly, an imaginative child who lives in a world of fantasy, together with her non-Jewish best friend, the downstairs neighbor Annaliese--to whom she is absolutely devoted. The two girls live inside the story of a land in which rabbits live safe from their neighbors and have glorious adventures, a perfect but unconscious parable for what we know is gong to threaten their idyllic childhood. As the noose of the Nazi threat gradually closes around Austria, the musician parents discover that talent and fame is no protection against nationalized hatred. Eventually the violist father is dismissed from the symphony and the singer mother not only from opera roles but from teaching as well. Deprived of their livelihood and eventually, their house, which is owned by the mother but turned over to Annaliese's Aryan family on threat of denunciation, they are eventually forced into the Jewish quarter where they live crushed in with thousands of others to await an uncertain future. Determined to save their teenage son, they send him away to try to make it to Switzerland, while they themselves make the daily rounds of the consulates, where heir desperation is met with denial after denial. Finally, a miracle--Bolivia is still accepting applications. The rest of the novel unfolds from there. What is remarkable about this novel is how nuanced Steil is in her portrayal of the situation of the Viennese Jews. It works because of her wise choice of protagonist, a brave, curious, imaginative child, who see the trees but not the forest. Orly doesn't realize what is coming as her parents do--as a child she is focused on the minutae of every day, and her world is experienced in small details which affect her directly. Steil lets these stand for the whole, and the story moves through eviction, concentration in the ghetto, Kristallnacht, the desperate flight to Genoa, with the fragmented vision of her protagonist, making it both vivid and highly readable. Then we are in La Paz, where Orly's curiosity and imagination, her gift of friendship, opens up a world for her, a world whose the possibilities are out of reach for her parents, broken by grief at the loss of their country and the loved ones they've left behind. Newly dropped into the lunar landscape of Andean Bolivia, they cluster with the other emigres, speak German, and long for a lost world. But Orly, though she has suffered along with her family, is young enough that the strange new world intrigues her. She befriends a young boy who lives in the same house and through him, learns Spanish and begins to send out roots into the new land. She slowly makes friends with a young indigenous girl in the marketplace, learning more about the native culture into which she's arrived. A place of exile to the parents, Bolivia is to Orly a place of its own, and she begins to unravel its secrets. The story follows Orly all the way through womanhood, and the pacing of it, how far the past extends, the scope of the story and the range of its issues, including bisexuality and homosexuality, the extent and limitation of friendship, the meaning and limitation of nationality and many others, is in itself remarkable.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Doherty

    This epic journey is an emotional roller coaster you don't want to stop. I didn't intend to read it in two days but the storytelling, history, narrative voice - all unbelievably captivating. It's four stories in one; you become deeply immersed in each era, feeling you couldn't possibly be as vested in the next part - and yet you are! From living the privileged life of an artist's daughter, exploring the metropolitan life of Vienna pre-WWII, to living within earnest moments of change as the Third Re This epic journey is an emotional roller coaster you don't want to stop. I didn't intend to read it in two days but the storytelling, history, narrative voice - all unbelievably captivating. It's four stories in one; you become deeply immersed in each era, feeling you couldn't possibly be as vested in the next part - and yet you are! From living the privileged life of an artist's daughter, exploring the metropolitan life of Vienna pre-WWII, to living within earnest moments of change as the Third Reich gained power and Jews lose everything, including narrowly escaping with their lives at every turn. To finally La Paz Bovliva, and the epic journey to get there; the exploration and new identity their lives take is in a vibrant new setting. By the time Orly and Miguel get engaged you can't believe the life you've read about while knowing these characters. Julia and Willi, Anneliese, the Natzi migration after the war to Bolivia as well. Mutti, and her mother's baking. Aunt Thekla and how she survived Auschwitz... It's the fullness of this story that is only matched but an incredible narration - Orly is a relatable, charismatic, strong protagonist who learns/adapts as she grows - seeing life in all its forms!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    1930’s Vienna, Orlita lives with her parents Jakob, her mother Julia and her older brother Willi they have a beautiful family home, her father plays the viola in the Philharmonic orchestra and her mother is a talented opera singer. Orly has never known anything other than love from her parents, extended family and her best friend Anneliese. Her parents have tried to keep her childhood free from the looming shadow of Hitler and his anti Jewish ideas. Orly spends her days at school and in her free 1930’s Vienna, Orlita lives with her parents Jakob, her mother Julia and her older brother Willi they have a beautiful family home, her father plays the viola in the Philharmonic orchestra and her mother is a talented opera singer. Orly has never known anything other than love from her parents, extended family and her best friend Anneliese. Her parents have tried to keep her childhood free from the looming shadow of Hitler and his anti Jewish ideas. Orly spends her days at school and in her free time she and Anneliese make up stories about bunny rabbits and fairy tales. In 1938, Orly's family’s life is changed when the Germans arrive, as we know Jewish people lost their homes, their jobs, children couldn’t go to school, they couldn’t catch public transport or even go for a walk in a park. Willi leaves Vienna first; Jakob knows he must get Julia and Orly out of Vienna while he can. Getting passports and visas is a long expensive process and they manage to find a way out of Vienna, but they have to travel to Bolivia in South America. The Jewish refugees in the small community all help each other, but the family is worried about Willi, the other family members left behind and for years they receive no news. While Orly and her Jakob adapt to living in the mountains, they get over altitude sickness, Julia is depressed and refuses to sing. It’s amazing how quickly children adjust Orly makes friends, with a boy called Miguel, and she learns Spanish. Eventually the war ends, the news about family members they left behind in Vienna is grim and this makes Julia a bitter and very angry woman. Orly is shocked to discover what her mother does and she keeps it a secret from her father. Exile Music, is a historical saga, it’s based around Orly growing up in Bolivia, during the war years and after the war finished. Orly studies at university, she falls in love, she marries and starts a family. It’s a story about, friendship, family, hope, loss and love. I gave the book four stars, I was going to give it five stars until I read the ending, I didn't like it at all and that's my opinion. I will share my review on Goodreads, Edelweiss, Twitter, Amazon Australia and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  5. 5 out of 5

    Candace

    From the first time I heard that Bolivia was one of the countries that offered visas to Jews trying to escape Nazi repression in the 1930s, I wondered how that had worked out. Remote, at 12,000 feet, politically precarious and not known for culture, how did these erudite Europeans fare? This is what Exile Music is about. Orly's parents are musicians and they move in the world of orchestras, opera, and Viennese cafes. It's magic until they can no longer be employed, are moved to the ghetto. Willi, From the first time I heard that Bolivia was one of the countries that offered visas to Jews trying to escape Nazi repression in the 1930s, I wondered how that had worked out. Remote, at 12,000 feet, politically precarious and not known for culture, how did these erudite Europeans fare? This is what Exile Music is about. Orly's parents are musicians and they move in the world of orchestras, opera, and Viennese cafes. It's magic until they can no longer be employed, are moved to the ghetto. Willi, Orly's brother, has already vanished into Switzerland to avoid being sent to a labor camp. They manage to get visas for Bolivia, but must leave everyone else behind, including Orly's dear friend Annaliese, whom she has already realized she may desire as more than a friend. Now they're in Bolivia, where there's no air, it's dirty, they may have to work as farm laborers, and everything is very strange. News takes months to arrive, if it does at all. What sort of community will they create, if they create one at all? Jennifer Steil has written a taut, imaginative novel of loss and discovery. I was completely pulled in and reveled in Orly's surprising sense of adventure, her growth, her daring exploration of who she is. A marvelous book. ~~Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is one of those books that's hard to put down. I read it in two days even though it's over 400 pages. While there are many novels that portray the lives of those who experienced the tragedies of WWII, this one starts there then shows what happens to Austrian exiles who escape to Bolivia. Steil powerfully captures both places--and what it can mean to be displaced due to war and genocide. Ultimately, this books explores the mysteries of human suffering and resilience. It also asks us to think This is one of those books that's hard to put down. I read it in two days even though it's over 400 pages. While there are many novels that portray the lives of those who experienced the tragedies of WWII, this one starts there then shows what happens to Austrian exiles who escape to Bolivia. Steil powerfully captures both places--and what it can mean to be displaced due to war and genocide. Ultimately, this books explores the mysteries of human suffering and resilience. It also asks us to think about revenge in complex ways. The voice immediately swept me into the story. Steil beautifully balances the sentiments of a girl as told through the eyes of the woman she becomes. And woven into the sorrowful aspects of the book are many life-affirming human activities exquisitely offered up to the reader: making music, cooking, writing, reading, experiencing nature, making friends, learning languages, exploring cultures, and falling in love. I also very much appreciated a portrayal of bisexuality that organically emerges from the characters and plot. I was lucky to get an advanced copy. It comes out in May but you can pre-order it, which obviously I highly recommend.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chrisl

    Recommend. Enjoyed learning about Bolivia. Author caught my attention with her 'Overture' p xiii - "Anneliese shook her head, the ends of her long hair dancing across the paper. 'How could we not have existed? We must have been somewhere.' She traced the outline of her lips with the rubber end of her pencil as she gazed up at the ceiling. At the left corner of her mouth, a faint scar curved upward so that even at rest her lips suggested a smile. 'I know where I was,' she said definitively. 'I was Recommend. Enjoyed learning about Bolivia. Author caught my attention with her 'Overture' p xiii - "Anneliese shook her head, the ends of her long hair dancing across the paper. 'How could we not have existed? We must have been somewhere.' She traced the outline of her lips with the rubber end of her pencil as she gazed up at the ceiling. At the left corner of her mouth, a faint scar curved upward so that even at rest her lips suggested a smile. 'I know where I was,' she said definitively. 'I was in Friedengluckhasenland.' "Fridengluckhasenland. Peace, Happiness, and Rabbits, all stuck together in a single word to make a place. "I stared at her. I was pretty sure that I hadn't existed before I emerged ..." page 124 - "It took more than two days for the locomotive to heave its way up the Andes with its load of refugees and Bolivians, all of us sharing wooden benches that bruised the bones of my bottom. At times, the train hardly seemed to be moving, inching its way up the arid slopes. The cliffs on either side were massive, steep, and bare. Many of our fellow passengers were various shades of brown. They smiled at me and said things in Spanish or another language I wish I understood. I could not remember ever having been on a train with so many smiling people. Nothing the Nazis did with their mouths counted as a smile. page 207 - Wiki 'Camino de la Muerte' (search led to 'Yungas) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yungas (While reading the Yungas article, Dalene Matthee's 'forest books' came to mind https://www.dalenematthee.co.za/en/bo... page 212 - "It was difficult for me to understand why the majority of Bolivians--people native to the country like the Aymara and Quechua--would not have the same rights that the paler Spanish descendants had. The Indians were not even considered full citizens. Miguel told me. Despite my own experience with insensible divisions, this explicit segregation bewildered me. ... "There were different rules for the Indians. If they had Indian names, the Mamani or Quispe, they were simply not admitted to school. If the girls wore the traditional clothes of the cholas, they were not admitted to school. Once I asked Nayra to come to the movies with us and she said she was not allowed ... 'Bolivia' does not allow. ... The Aymara, Quechua, and other native populations were not allowed in the front seats of the tram ... When you were walking on a sidewalk and an Indian was coming the other way, the Indian was expected to step down ..."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Suze

    This was a fascinating read, about refugees from Nazi Germany escaping to the only country that would accept them - Bolivia, South America. Imagine uprooting your world to flee for your lives to a country that's completely different in almost every way. Imagine making a new life when everything you knew and loved has been left behind, including loved ones. The family's adaptation to Bolivia is different for each refugee, each family. I found myself wondering if I would be strong enough in charact This was a fascinating read, about refugees from Nazi Germany escaping to the only country that would accept them - Bolivia, South America. Imagine uprooting your world to flee for your lives to a country that's completely different in almost every way. Imagine making a new life when everything you knew and loved has been left behind, including loved ones. The family's adaptation to Bolivia is different for each refugee, each family. I found myself wondering if I would be strong enough in character and heart to move ahead, considering the circumstances. I felt as if I knew the characters personally by the end of the book, as there was much time devoted to introspection of each one. I love that in the books I enjoy. I learned quite a bit about Bolivia, thanks to the detailed descriptions by the author. Highly recommended!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Haider

    Somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars. Orly had an idyllic childhood living in Austria with her older brother and her parents. Her father plays viola in the Vienna philharmonic and her mom is an opera singer. Orly spends most of her time with her neighbor Anneliese. The two girls make up stories about a make-believe country occupied by rabbits who drive carrot-mobiles. As WWII looms, Orly's family faces discrimination and harassment because they are Jewish. Some of this harassment comes from Annelie Somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars. Orly had an idyllic childhood living in Austria with her older brother and her parents. Her father plays viola in the Vienna philharmonic and her mom is an opera singer. Orly spends most of her time with her neighbor Anneliese. The two girls make up stories about a make-believe country occupied by rabbits who drive carrot-mobiles. As WWII looms, Orly's family faces discrimination and harassment because they are Jewish. Some of this harassment comes from Anneliese's parents, though Ana still tries to help Orly. Orly's brother escapes over the border into Switzerland and Orly and her parents secure visas to Bolivia. Orly is 10 when she moves with her parents to Vienna. Life in Bolivia is a culture shock for the family and Orly's mother is not the same. She refuses to sing or even hum. Orly makes some friends and becomes adept at speaking Spanish. However, she yearns for her best friend Anneliese. This book was an emotional roller coaster. As a reader, you want the best for Orly and her family but know that there will be heart ache. We all know that bad things happened during World War II, particularly to Jewish people. This story takes a slightly different take on the WWII story by following a refugee family to South America. It was interesting seeing their experiences in such a different place. They moved from the very metropolitan Vienna to the mountain-top city of La Paz, where there is no philharmonic and no opera. There are other Jewish refugees there so they do have some sense of community. This book counts towards the Book Riot Read Harder 2020 Challenge Task #19: A book by or about a refugee I won a copy of this book from a GoodReads giveaway.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Exile Music by Jennifer Steil is an excellent historical fiction that covers a different, and fascinating, aspect of the atrocities that the Jewish people faced in Europe during the 1930s-WWII. This book focusses on a Jewish family with the main character being a young girl named Orly. As tensions and risks continue to rise and with their family’s safety and in question, Orly’s family escape from Vienna to Bolivia. It was gripping and suspenseful. It was hard to read what this family, as well as Exile Music by Jennifer Steil is an excellent historical fiction that covers a different, and fascinating, aspect of the atrocities that the Jewish people faced in Europe during the 1930s-WWII. This book focusses on a Jewish family with the main character being a young girl named Orly. As tensions and risks continue to rise and with their family’s safety and in question, Orly’s family escape from Vienna to Bolivia. It was gripping and suspenseful. It was hard to read what this family, as well as many others, had to experience leaving all they know and love to an unfamiliar landscape and being forced to start all over again. This plight is glossed over in a lot of narratives that are currently out on shelves, so it was a fascinating read to see things from this perspective. A great pace, plot, and character cast. The text was easy to read, however the subject matter was very hard at times to accept. A needed addition to keep history in the forefront of our minds. 5/5 stars. Excellent Thank you EW and Viking/Penguin Publishing for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jean Sarnie

    Just finished Exile Music which I had been so lucky to have won. It was a new setting for my favorite genre of World War 11 novels. There are several events that are intertwined within this beautifully written story that follows a family that is forced to flee their home in Vienna and move to one of the only countries who would accept them, Bolivia. Being a senior and at home due to Covid quarantine, I was transported to the beautiful but savage mountain city of La Paz. I took my time reading th Just finished Exile Music which I had been so lucky to have won. It was a new setting for my favorite genre of World War 11 novels. There are several events that are intertwined within this beautifully written story that follows a family that is forced to flee their home in Vienna and move to one of the only countries who would accept them, Bolivia. Being a senior and at home due to Covid quarantine, I was transported to the beautiful but savage mountain city of La Paz. I took my time reading this book because I did not want it to end.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jo Ann

    I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley. Orly, the narrator of the story, is just 10 years old and living in Vienna when the Nazis come to power in neighboring Germany. Her parents are deeply involved in the musical and cultural scene in Vienna - her mother is an opera singer and her father is a concert viola player. She has an older brother and lives close to her grandparents, other family members, and close friends. As a Jewish family, their lives will change drastically. Orly continues sh I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley. Orly, the narrator of the story, is just 10 years old and living in Vienna when the Nazis come to power in neighboring Germany. Her parents are deeply involved in the musical and cultural scene in Vienna - her mother is an opera singer and her father is a concert viola player. She has an older brother and lives close to her grandparents, other family members, and close friends. As a Jewish family, their lives will change drastically. Orly continues sharing her experiences with the reader as she grows up and the family is eventually able to emigrate to Bolivia, the only country that would give them visas. La Paz, a somewhat backward city at high altitude in the Andes, is dramatically different from the Vienna of Orly's early childhood. As the war nears completion, Orly learns to her horror that the Nazis have now arrived in the city she and her family viewed as a safe haven. Told from the unique perspective of a young girl, this was a very emotional book. The reader sees the world through Orly's eyes as she matures and understands more and more of the situation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ava Homa

    Exile Music is a beautifully-written and rich book that touches on many topics such as oppression, hatred, suppressed sexuality, displacement, loss, and love. It draws you in from the beginning with the friendship between two girls in Vienna and the story gets more layered as it progresses in Bolivia, reaching its highest notes after chapter sixty. You will enjoy the unexpected twists that I can't reveal here. The mother's story and the ethical dilemma she represents was haunting. It's crazy to s Exile Music is a beautifully-written and rich book that touches on many topics such as oppression, hatred, suppressed sexuality, displacement, loss, and love. It draws you in from the beginning with the friendship between two girls in Vienna and the story gets more layered as it progresses in Bolivia, reaching its highest notes after chapter sixty. You will enjoy the unexpected twists that I can't reveal here. The mother's story and the ethical dilemma she represents was haunting. It's crazy to see how much human society hasn't changed, though the targeted communities shift from Jews to Blacks, to Muslims and so on. Will we ever learn?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margo Littell

    Orly, the young daughter of musicians in Vienna, spends her days in blissful friendship with her upstairs neighbor, Anneliese. Together they create an endless story about a land of bunnies and happiness. Their bond is intense, their life comfortable and predictable. But Hitler is gaining power, and soon the girls are split: Anneliese is forbidden from seeing Orly, whose family is Jewish. Anneliese’s parents are among many others who turn on the Zingels as Nazis take over Austria, and while Orly’ Orly, the young daughter of musicians in Vienna, spends her days in blissful friendship with her upstairs neighbor, Anneliese. Together they create an endless story about a land of bunnies and happiness. Their bond is intense, their life comfortable and predictable. But Hitler is gaining power, and soon the girls are split: Anneliese is forbidden from seeing Orly, whose family is Jewish. Anneliese’s parents are among many others who turn on the Zingels as Nazis take over Austria, and while Orly’s older brother, Willi, escapes into Switzerland, Orly’s parents desperately secure passage to the only place that will take them: Bolivia. La Paz, high in the Andes, is a different world from Vienna in every way, but homesickness is complicated when the place Orly once considered “home” rejected them so violently. She must forge a new life, in a new language, along with the other Jewish families who settle nearby. The Zingels do this with different levels of success. Her father, Jakob, finds a path forward through his music. But her mother, Julia, pursues a destiny Orly can neither understand nor accept. Meanwhile, whether Willi is alive is the question that threatens to drown out everything else. Exile Music is a coming-of-age story situated in one of the most horrific periods in history, and the place where Orly’s life plays out is as harrowing as it is beautiful. It’s hard to overstate how elegantly Steil interweaves history and setting in this novel, and how moving it is to see how rapturously Orly builds a life in the face of unimaginable obstacles. This is a love story on many levels, with a love of life itself taking precedence over all else. Read this novel for the gripping story, for the heartbreakingly real characters, for the voluptuous descriptions of setting. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Cobb Sabatini

    I won an Advance Uncorrected Proof of Exile Music by Jennifer Steil from Goodreads. Readers may need to pause occasionally to take a deep breath as they read Exile Music by Jennifer Steil because the writing is that intense, the story that acute. There are moments in this powerful novel that are breathtakingly beautiful, moments that are heartwrenchingly sad, and always the knowledge that the reader is on a journey that will have tremendous impact long after the last page is read. Here is the sto I won an Advance Uncorrected Proof of Exile Music by Jennifer Steil from Goodreads. Readers may need to pause occasionally to take a deep breath as they read Exile Music by Jennifer Steil because the writing is that intense, the story that acute. There are moments in this powerful novel that are breathtakingly beautiful, moments that are heartwrenchingly sad, and always the knowledge that the reader is on a journey that will have tremendous impact long after the last page is read. Here is the story of man's inhumanity to man and of man's capacity for compassion. Here is the novel that may inspire courage and hope. Exile Music by Jennifer Stiel is a haunting symphony of a story that leaves readers breathless.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kim Bakos

    Wow, what a wonderful story! I never knew of the refugees from Europe who went to Boliva, and know little about Boliva in general. I know that some Nazi officers went to South America but never knew there were Jewish refugees there as well. I love music and loved the parts where music was so fondly spoken of. As someone who learned Spanish in high school and college, as well as some French, it was fun to test my memory in this book. My grandparents came here from Austria after WW1 and I am so tha Wow, what a wonderful story! I never knew of the refugees from Europe who went to Boliva, and know little about Boliva in general. I know that some Nazi officers went to South America but never knew there were Jewish refugees there as well. I love music and loved the parts where music was so fondly spoken of. As someone who learned Spanish in high school and college, as well as some French, it was fun to test my memory in this book. My grandparents came here from Austria after WW1 and I am so thankful that they never had to live through Hitler's occupation. I found it sad to see that the native people of Boliva were treated as poorly there was blacks and Native Americans have been treated here in the US. This story is so well written and the author had the ability to "grow" the voice of the main character as she started out at about age six and was a middle-aged woman by the end. Not only did her voice have to change as she aged, but the language she spoke in changed as well. As many WW2 stories, there are many parts of this story that are very sad, but in the end, this family, like so many others, triumphed over the persecution that they faced and became stronger for it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This story which spans four decades is about a Jewish family from Vienna during World War II. The story is told through the eyes of a young girl named Orly growing up in Vienna during the 1930's. Her father plays in the Philharmonic Orchestra and her mother is an opera singer. After the Germans arrive in Vienna in 1938, life becomes unbearable for Orly and her family. Her older brother, Willi, escapes first and becomes part of the Resistance. It takes months and months for the rest of the family This story which spans four decades is about a Jewish family from Vienna during World War II. The story is told through the eyes of a young girl named Orly growing up in Vienna during the 1930's. Her father plays in the Philharmonic Orchestra and her mother is an opera singer. After the Germans arrive in Vienna in 1938, life becomes unbearable for Orly and her family. Her older brother, Willi, escapes first and becomes part of the Resistance. It takes months and months for the rest of the family to acquire visas to go to Bolivia, one of the few countries that is still taking Jewish refugees. They settle in La Paz, a city high up in the Andes Mountains. The high altitude and different culture prove to be among the many adjustments for the family. This is a very compelling and heart-wrenching story based on true facts. Thank you to Goodreads and Viking for the gift of this book that I received in a giveaway.

  18. 5 out of 5

    April

    Set during World War II, Steil focuses on those Jews who were able to flee before the worst of the atrocities had taken place. Exile Music is at moments tough to get through; watching as the Jews have their homes taken, their businesses and jobs taken, and most precious their dignity. Those who were able to flee found themselves unable to cope with the unfamiliar climate and the inability to communicate in an unknown language. Though thankful to be alive, they fought the darkness of the atrociti Set during World War II, Steil focuses on those Jews who were able to flee before the worst of the atrocities had taken place. Exile Music is at moments tough to get through; watching as the Jews have their homes taken, their businesses and jobs taken, and most precious their dignity. Those who were able to flee found themselves unable to cope with the unfamiliar climate and the inability to communicate in an unknown language. Though thankful to be alive, they fought the darkness of the atrocities experienced and witnessed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Sokoloff

    The incredible story of one family’s journey from Nazi occupied #austria to #lapaz #Bolivia. The story centers around a musical family living in Vienna, the dad plays the #viola, the mom sings in the #opera They have a son, Willy, and a daughter Orly. Orly tells their story. The war rips Orly from everything she treasures: the concert and opera halls of #Vienna, (with their magnificent #crystal #chandeliers), and her best friend Anneliesse, with whom she created a #secretworld, populated by bunn The incredible story of one family’s journey from Nazi occupied #austria to #lapaz #Bolivia. The story centers around a musical family living in Vienna, the dad plays the #viola, the mom sings in the #opera They have a son, Willy, and a daughter Orly. Orly tells their story. The war rips Orly from everything she treasures: the concert and opera halls of #Vienna, (with their magnificent #crystal #chandeliers), and her best friend Anneliesse, with whom she created a #secretworld, populated by bunnies. Orly’s journey, through #Genoa to #LaPaz takes her to a world she never could have imagined, 12,000 ft above sea level, to a city surrounded by mountains, built in the dust, and Bolivia 🇧🇴 is a country with its own complicated history. Because Orly is young enough, and curious by nature, she opens herself up to the Bolivian people and way of life. Although it is more difficult for adults, her father adapts but it is a continuous struggle for her mother. The story continues into Orly’s adult life, and I could not put it down. It is an incredible and unusual story and one that I could not put down. Thank you @jenniferfsteil for #exilemusic. If you want to read mire about the book, check out @jenniferfsteil’s Instagram 🇧🇴🇮🇹account! I give this book #5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and #5🎵🎵🎵🎵🎵! @momsdonthavetimetoreadbooks @zibbyowens @audible_ca @hilaryhuber #15cows #twentygrandpianos #friedenglückhasenland

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Katz

    Exile Music is a symphony of words. The musicality and attention to sensory detail transports the reader into the story. The juxtaposition between Vienna and La Paz is like stepping from a world of nostalgic black and white into dazzling technicolor. Jennifer’s use of multilingual dialogue goes a long way to add authenticity to the characters, giving the narrative not only an international scale necessary for a World War II tale, but also showing the difficulty of immigrants trying to communicat Exile Music is a symphony of words. The musicality and attention to sensory detail transports the reader into the story. The juxtaposition between Vienna and La Paz is like stepping from a world of nostalgic black and white into dazzling technicolor. Jennifer’s use of multilingual dialogue goes a long way to add authenticity to the characters, giving the narrative not only an international scale necessary for a World War II tale, but also showing the difficulty of immigrants trying to communicate in a foreign land. The amount of research that went into this book is insane. The author creates a tangible story world that invites the reader to escape. Though the content is at times heavy with the horrors of war and racism, the choice of a ten year old female narrator provides an innocence and wonder that tampers the seemingly never ending tragedies of her worn and weary parents with a youth’s frustrated desire for life and new beginnings. Highly recommend!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Irene Wittig

    I just read Jennifer Steil's EXILE MUSIC. You will love every word of this beautiful nove . As an immigrant from a Viennese musical family split apart by World War II, and author of ALL THAT LINGERS, the novel had special resonance as it took me into emotionally familiar territory, but all readers who have suffered loss and unforeseen changes will find much to identity with. Orly, the young Jewish protagonist of this evocative novel will win every reader’s heart. The power of her childhood frien I just read Jennifer Steil's EXILE MUSIC. You will love every word of this beautiful nove . As an immigrant from a Viennese musical family split apart by World War II, and author of ALL THAT LINGERS, the novel had special resonance as it took me into emotionally familiar territory, but all readers who have suffered loss and unforeseen changes will find much to identity with. Orly, the young Jewish protagonist of this evocative novel will win every reader’s heart. The power of her childhood friendship and play with her neighbor Anneliese shields her from the growing tension that surrounds her in 1930s Vienna. Readers share her parents’ heart-pounding fear as they desperately seek to escape Austria after Hitler’s arrival. When Orly and her parents are granted asylum in Bolivia, her parents struggle to adapt, but Orly embraces her new life, finding joy in new friendships, and true value in a world so different from the one she’d known before. With music as a leitmotif, Ms Steil weaves together places and people seemingly unconnected into a lyrical whole that readers will remember for a long time. This is a wonderful novel in which readers — and book clubs — can find much to ponder and discuss.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I am always thankful to learn something new from a piece of historical fiction, and this book tells the story of thousands of Jews turned away from almost every country, but accepted into Bolivia. Orly is the daughter of a viola player in the Vienna Philharmonic, and her mother, an opera singer. As Austrians and Jews, they are shocked when the Nazis take over and they lose their freedoms and way of life. Finally getting to Bolivia, they have to learn another language and a culture so different f I am always thankful to learn something new from a piece of historical fiction, and this book tells the story of thousands of Jews turned away from almost every country, but accepted into Bolivia. Orly is the daughter of a viola player in the Vienna Philharmonic, and her mother, an opera singer. As Austrians and Jews, they are shocked when the Nazis take over and they lose their freedoms and way of life. Finally getting to Bolivia, they have to learn another language and a culture so different from European culture. I highly recommend this absorbing and beautifully written novel. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Hensey

    Really 4.5. So many themes to discuss.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

    Amazing! The rare treat of a book that you simply can't stop reading. Then you turn around and read again. I loved the perspective of a young Jewish girl caught in the tragedy of WWII. Full of heroes and monsters and love and redemption the story moved me in so many ways. I enjoyed the children and how coming from different cultures gave them something to share and admire. I was impressed how the author was able to portray the horror of the adult experience and how it changed them permanently. W Amazing! The rare treat of a book that you simply can't stop reading. Then you turn around and read again. I loved the perspective of a young Jewish girl caught in the tragedy of WWII. Full of heroes and monsters and love and redemption the story moved me in so many ways. I enjoyed the children and how coming from different cultures gave them something to share and admire. I was impressed how the author was able to portray the horror of the adult experience and how it changed them permanently. While no one can imagine without having gone through it the author gives us a glimpse that feels real and I felt I gained some perspective. Fascinating. Compelling. A book you will want to share. A good read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marcia

    I couldn't put this book down. Orly is a Jewish child in Austria. Her father plays in there Philharmonic Orchestra and her mother is an opera singer. Her best friend is Ana. Things begin to worsen for the family as the Nazis take power and turn against the Jews. Ana's parents even turn agains Orly's family. They flee to Bolivia to start a new life. Ana adapts and embraces Bolivia. Her father finds some sense of peace through his music. Her mother has deadly secrets and has lost her joy in life. I couldn't put this book down. Orly is a Jewish child in Austria. Her father plays in there Philharmonic Orchestra and her mother is an opera singer. Her best friend is Ana. Things begin to worsen for the family as the Nazis take power and turn against the Jews. Ana's parents even turn agains Orly's family. They flee to Bolivia to start a new life. Ana adapts and embraces Bolivia. Her father finds some sense of peace through his music. Her mother has deadly secrets and has lost her joy in life. it's an intriguing, well-written story and totally held my attention. I recommend it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    I won a copy of Exile Music in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you very much. I really liked this book. It was a pleasure to read. The writing was beautiful. I never knew about the Jewish people who escaped to Bolivia during WWII. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this setting but it was enlightening and very interesting. All in all, it is at the top of the list for the best book I’ve read this year. Thanks again.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Price

    I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Exile Music tells the story of an Austrian Jewish family, beginning in the late 1930's just before and after the Anschluss when Hitler took over Austria. The main part of the book deals with a lesser-known part of history: the escape of many Jews to the country of Bolivia, particularly La Paz. Orly and her mother and father find a new home in an environment totally unfamiliar to them, one the author lovingly recreates in vivid word pictures. I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Exile Music tells the story of an Austrian Jewish family, beginning in the late 1930's just before and after the Anschluss when Hitler took over Austria. The main part of the book deals with a lesser-known part of history: the escape of many Jews to the country of Bolivia, particularly La Paz. Orly and her mother and father find a new home in an environment totally unfamiliar to them, one the author lovingly recreates in vivid word pictures. Each family member deals with the trauma of their experiences in a different way. Her father, a violist in the Vienna Philharmonic, creates a new life with music. Her mother, an opera singer, clamps down on the music that has been such a huge part of her life and withdraws from life until she later decides to seek justice in her own way. Orly falls in love with her new home; she turns the music that has always lived within her into poetry, eventually learning to play a native musical instrument, the charango. I had never realized that after the war, many of the Jews who had escaped the horrors of Europe were once again faced with Nazis who sought out the same locations for refuge. There were many things to like about this book. I appreciated the "news flashes" at the beginning of each chapter in the first section which kept timing in perspective. The writing flows beautifully throughout the entire book.. I did, however, feel that the story slowed down too much in the early years in La Paz; time almost seemed to stand still. I found the descriptions of Orly's inner feelings about Anneliese (and later Rachel) distracting; for me, they took away from the power of a family creating a new life in a world new to them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    *Disclaimer: I won this book from a Goodreads first-reads giveaway. Exile Music follows the story of Orly, an Austrian Jew and her story from being forced from her home in Austria by the Nazi's to taking refuge in Bolivia. Orly, the daughter of two musicians, lives a privileged life in pre-war Austria. Her father is a well known violist and her mother is a beautiful opera singer. Her beloved older brother Willy is her shining star and she is inseparable form her best friend, Anneliese. When the N *Disclaimer: I won this book from a Goodreads first-reads giveaway. Exile Music follows the story of Orly, an Austrian Jew and her story from being forced from her home in Austria by the Nazi's to taking refuge in Bolivia. Orly, the daughter of two musicians, lives a privileged life in pre-war Austria. Her father is a well known violist and her mother is a beautiful opera singer. Her beloved older brother Willy is her shining star and she is inseparable form her best friend, Anneliese. When the Nazi's take control of Austria, Willy escapes to Switzerland while Jacob, Orly's father tries to get them visas to any country that will have them. Surprisingly (to me) Bolivia is the only country that offers them refuge, but they will need to leave the rest of their family behind. After the three of them arrive in La Paz, it is a culture shock, as the air is very thin and makes them sick. It is also very dirty and very technologically inferior to Austria. Orly befriends a boy her age named Miguel and he teaches her many things. As the years pass, unfortunate news arrives from family members lost in the war. Orly grows up and always remembers her time with Anneliese, hoping to one day see her again. I learned a lot from this book. I did not know about the many Jews who were refugees in South America. I also learned that many Nazis took refuge there after the war to hide from their war crimes. This is a little-known piece of history and it needs to be read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Lynn

    World War II was such a horrific time to live through. The war was going on, you never knew where you were safe, and you had to rely on other people for everything from food to shelter to clothing. Now imagine that as a young girl. Orly is that girl. She is young, she lives an ideal life with her parents and brother with her best friend living in the apartment above her. Until it all changes. Orly’s story was so interesting. I was invested in the world she was living in. The story told not only World War II was such a horrific time to live through. The war was going on, you never knew where you were safe, and you had to rely on other people for everything from food to shelter to clothing. Now imagine that as a young girl. Orly is that girl. She is young, she lives an ideal life with her parents and brother with her best friend living in the apartment above her. Until it all changes. Orly’s story was so interesting. I was invested in the world she was living in. The story told not only of what was happening around her but also what was happening directly in her house and her emotions to those happenings. I could feel her joy in writing the stories of the make believe world with Anneliese, the fear of seeing the Nazi’s invade her neighborhood, the sadness at losing the things that were most familiar to her, and mostly her strength in not knowing what her future held but having to keep her head up, staying strong. She experienced a life that many did not survive, and she knew how lucky she was that she and her parents were able to be together through it all. I am a World War II fan, it is my favorite era to read about. Jennifer Steil has written an amazing book telling the story of a time where everything was different and the world was a scary place to live. Yet, with the scariness, there is hope, love, and music.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Linda Haas

    A young Jewish girl and her musical family have been living a happy life in Vienna. However, that all changes in the 1930s thanks to Hitler and the Nazi regime. We read about the day to day changes that take place in this cultural city. It is difficult to understand how people could treat their friends and neighbors as the Jewish people were treated. Seeing what was happening to the Jewish people, this family make a decision to leave Austria. Getting visas to other countries is not easy as they A young Jewish girl and her musical family have been living a happy life in Vienna. However, that all changes in the 1930s thanks to Hitler and the Nazi regime. We read about the day to day changes that take place in this cultural city. It is difficult to understand how people could treat their friends and neighbors as the Jewish people were treated. Seeing what was happening to the Jewish people, this family make a decision to leave Austria. Getting visas to other countries is not easy as they and the reader find out. The only country who will take them is Bolivia. So we read about their journey at sea and then their adjustments to their new home which is so very different from Vienna. I found this book extremely interesting. It kept me reading into the night. My favorite genres are suspense thrillers and murder mysteries which I can’t put down. I couldn’t put this novel down either. It’s that good.

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