An Estate of Memory

An Estate of Memory


Ilona Karmel
A spiritual novel of regeneration in the midst of brutality and death.

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Paperback Edition
Publication Date: 09-01-1987

Afterword by Ruth Kluger

An Estate of Memory is a spiritual novel of growth and regeneration, even in the midst of brutality and death, that recreates in precise detail the daily lives of Jewish women in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. The taste and feel of the days and seasons, of the varieties of work, are palpable, and the pre-camp memories of the prisoners braid the narrative brilliantly. The novel testifies to survival through cooperation, as it focuses on four women who join together at first to improve their own lives, and ultimately to save the life of a baby. As Adrienne Rich notes, An Estate of Memory is “a woman’s eye view of living beyond the point where life is supposed to have meaning.”

"This is a very good book. Like Solzhenitsyn, Ilona Karmel has succeeded in writing about life in the prison camps as plausible, possible human experience. . . . By the time we are told [that one of them is pregnant], these four women have established themselves in our minds as completely alive, believable, faulty and individual." —New York Times Book Review

"One of the few great realistic novels about the Nazi camps . . . An Estate of Memory stands in the tradition of the great modern prison books. . . . While Karmel does describe hardship and terror with uncompromising severity, the book is largely about friendship, about women bonding. . . . In a broad and non polemical sense, this is a profoundly feminist book." —Ruth Kluger, from the Afterward