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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

A Novel
Written by: Heather Morris
Narrated by: Richard Armitage
Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
5 out of 5 stars (505 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 30.01
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Publisher's Summary

This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov - an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for "tattooist"), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism - but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful recreation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

©2018 Heather Morris (P)2018 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What the critics say

"Richard Armitage is a superb narrator whose performance here is among his best.... Armitage's performance captures every emotion from fear to trepidation to hope and even to love with understated warmth." (AudioFile)

"The audio version of this book is a particularly strong marriage of narrator and material. The British actor Richard Armitage uses an impressive variety of actorly tools as he shifts perspective.... He skillfully conveys the cruel, mocking tone that the SS officers and guards often used with prisoners as a way of reinforcing their power. Even when he isn't portraying a specific character, Armitage keeps the listener engaged and alert by modulating his tone, sometimes within individual sentences. At times it seems as if there are two narrators, so often, and ably, does Armitage vary his delivery.... [The author's] compassion for her characters, combined with Armitage's riveting delivery, makes this an immensely satisfying book to listen to, whatever else you might happen to be doing." (The New York Times Book Review)

"The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document, a story about the extremes of human behavior existing side by side: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none." (Graeme Simsion, internationally best-selling author of The Rosie Project)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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I riveting book of survival and love

This story is one we must never forget. The true story of the survival of humanity and never ending true love.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Such a heart wrenching story of survival, love, horror, darkest side of history & humanity. Society needs to take note and not repeat these mistakes. It's a slippery slope.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Start to finish in a day

The book was, overall, great. Some of the sentences in the novel were a little heavy handed when it came to description, prose, etc which made me want to give it four stars instead of five but goooootdamn the subject matter is heavy and gripping. The narration is next level of course. Listened to this in one day. Worth a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A must must MUST read!!!

Wow. Words cannot describe how incredible this story is! How two people can meet in such horrendous circumstances, fall in love and live their lives to the fullest with the deepest of love is something everyone should strive for (not the horrendous circumstances, it is always heartbreaking to hear how the Jews, gypsies, and POWs were treated in the camps). My heart is overflowing with joy at the ending of this story, but is breaking at the horrors of it. This is a book everyone must read/listen to! You will not regret it!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Must read

This book is amazing. Must read.

My only dislike was the narrator/edit. I found it would cut to a different tone of voice in the same sentence, as though words were spliced in and out.

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great read

A moving story about overcoming harrowing circumstances and finding true love even while experiencing the worst of humanity.

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Heartwrenchingly Amazing

Always love historic stories from unique perspectives such as this. I would definitely recommend this audiobook.

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Great narration and touching plot

One of the better audible books I've listened to. I really enjoyed the narrators voice and the plot was simultaneously heartwarming and gruesome. I felt like I could relate to the character and became very captivated by the story around halfway through the story. I recommend this!

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The second half!!!

What a fantastic book. Here was my take on it.
The first half of the book although amazing, was a slight bit repetitive as it is about the time in the camp (it’s a true story so not much you can do here).
The second half of the book was when I really could not stop listening. It would have been amazing if the epilogue was part of the whole story. I feel like that part of the book was really interesting and I wished I could have heard more about it.

My one critique was more about the narration.
I couldn’t understand why, but at some points the voice would change from a strong bolder voice to more of a whisper. It drove me nuts at times but thankfully didn’t ruin the book.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Poorly written

The positive reviews, the subject matter and the popularity of this book laid me to believe that it would be very good. However, I have been incredibly disappointed. Instead of sounding genuine, it felt pompous. Instead of relating a telling and powerful story, it felt desperate. I felt no attachment to the characters as they had very little depth to them. This story has all the parts to make it great: tragedy, love and war, but had none of the substance to make it resonate with me or feel authentic. It feels like it is going for something special but missed the mark. I am an avid reader and made it half way through, but could simply not finish it. Someone described it as turgid, and that is exactly what it is.

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  • melyssa57 (A Page Before Bedtime dot com)
  • 2018-10-10

A hopeful perspective on a harrowing time

Do we really need another book about the Holocaust? Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. We must continue to revisit society tragedies lest we forget. The unique aspect of The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is that she took a very dark time in history and shared a story of joy, hope, and love through this tale of two courageous individuals. The book is based on the true story of Lale and Gita who fall in love at first site as Lale is given the horrible task of tattooing numeric identifiers on captured Jews. A multilingual Slovakian Jew, Lale was one of the "lucky" ones who was able to secure a "privileged" position of tätowierer. Once he meets Gita for those few moments, there is an instant connection and he knows he must find her again. He is successful and a challenging love affair ensues. So, while the backdrop of this book is the Holocaust and World World II, the prevailing plot is a love story.

I listened to this book via Audible. It was narrated by English actor, Richard Armitage, who was simply perfect in his narration. His voice is captivating. Granted Heather Morris has told a beautiful tale, and Armitage's voice just added icing to the cake. I found myself almost tired at times pulling for Lale and Gita. I won't say I was pulling for a happy ending because what is happy about the Holocaust, but rather, I was yearning for a hopeful ending. I felt strongly that hope would be revealed in the end, but it was a struggle listening to the atrocities before both main characters arrived there. Both the story and the narration pulled me in and didn't let me go until I'd finished listening to the author's notes and son's afterword at the very end.

Some criticisms I've read about this book is that there was not enough focus on the evils of the concentration camp. I disagree. If you want to read a book that goes into more in-depth detail on the horrors of Auschwitz and other concentration camps, there are hundreds of fiction and non-fiction books that will meet that need. This book is a love story, so much so, that the concentration camp setting of the book seemed to be relatively short to me even though it covered three long, tortuous years. My only criticism of this book is that some of the loose ends were not resolved. For example, what happened to Silka and Donna?

Recommendation: The Holocaust was real. It is a reality that the few living survivors continue to be haunted by. I really appreciated this hopeful perspective on this harrowing time period. If you're a WWII historical fiction (although this book included non-fiction elements) junkie, I think you will appreciate this book. Do yourself a favor and read along with the sultry Richard Armitage!

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.

89 of 91 people found this review helpful

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  • Cynthia Langer
  • 2018-09-09

Lest We Forget

For such a horrific time in history, this unforgettable love story was beautifully written. We must continue to make sure our children's children learn of thus time. Lest as a society, we forget.

35 of 36 people found this review helpful

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  • icy
  • 2018-09-16

Tattooist

Fast paced story that keeps you riveted to the book. Characters portray the time period well. I’ve read many books regarding this topic. This one I’ll allow my teens to read.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Colleen J. Marsini
  • 2018-11-06

TREMENDOUS

I resisted this book for weeks, always passing it over for an " easier" title. I am so glad I " Bravely decided to delve into this book. It is extremely well written. If you enjoyed a gentleman from Moscow this is your next read.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • AnnaMarie King
  • 2018-09-10

Incredible story, performed brilliantly

An incredible story of perseverance and hope! I finished listening to the book this morning and I've been deeply affected, to say the least. Of course, I've read and learned much about the Holocaust in my lifetime, but this is a different perspective. And it's a first-hand account of one who was there. There were multiple times while listening that I had tears streaming down my face. One of the things that really stood out to me was the details of the individuals Lale met. You see each person as an individual with their own personal struggle to survive. And through the eyes of each person, you see a different experience during this dark time.

Richard Armitage is a MASTER of narration. You truly feel like you are listening to the actual people speaking, in all of their different dialects and accents- rather than just one man expertly stepping into their voices and experiences. Richard is truly a master of his craft. Thank you, Richard Armitage, for bringing this story to life in a way I'll never forget.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • GroovyMonkey8
  • 2018-09-20

The True Auschwitz

This book was fabulous. Another wonderfully written historical fiction book about an awful place and awful time. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to know more about this place.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • LK
  • 2019-03-04

I hung on every word...

Because I generally listen to audible books while I’m driving or doing other things, I sometimes miss certain passages but THIS book stopped me in my tracks and I listened, focused, until the very last word of the afterword. This compelling story of the overriding strength of will to survive in the face of such horrors is a must read; made even more powerful by the TRUTH of it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tina Hertel
  • 2018-09-17

Love and humanity

A powerful story highlighting humanity and love during one of the darkest chapters of our human history. We'll written and read very well, too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Audra Rabroker
  • 2019-01-19

Return

Ughh!!! Why can’t I get a refund because the narrators are AWFUL! Just beware, that they switch narrators frequently throughout the story; sometimes mid sentence! Story is good, but it is completely ruined by the narrators

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Pat Levine
  • 2018-10-01

Narrator problem

The narrator frequently appears to stop and re-record text so that his voice is different in the middle of a sentence. Very hard to get into the flow of the novel with this happening.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful