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In The Bohemian Flats Mary Relindes Ellis’s rich imaginative gift carries us from the bourgeois world of fin de siècle Germany to a vibrant immigrant enclave in the heart of the Midwest and to the killing fields of World War IShell shock as it was called lands Raimund Kaufmann in a London hospital a victim of the war but also of his own and his brother’s efforts to get out of Germany and build a new life in America While his recovery eludes him his memory returns us to Minneapolis to the Flats a milling community on the Mississippi River where Raimund and his brother Albert have sought respite from the oppressive hand of their older brother now the master of the family farm and brewery In Minnesota the brothers confront different forms of prejudice but they also find a chance to remake their lives according to their own principles and wishes—until the war makes their German roots inescapableFollowing these lives The Bohemian Flats conjures both the sweep of irresistible history and the intimate reality of a man and a family caught up in it From a nineteenth century German farm to the thriving wildly diverse immigrant village below Minneapolis on the Mississippi to the European front in World War I and returning to twentieth century America—this is a story that takes a reader to the far reaches of human experience and the depths of the human heart

10 thoughts on “The Bohemian Flats

  1. says:

    This is the history of a German family who chose to immigrate to the United States not only for political reasons but for very personal reasons family reasons This is not just the story of one family but of many families that chose to come to this country for so many different reasons but the underlying factor was freedomThis account is about generations of a family and the history not only of their births and deaths but also of the world The story centers on two brothers who are alike and yet very different The younger Raimund Kaufman leaves Germany and finds his way to Minneapolis and an area on the Mississippi called The Flats which is filled with immigrant families from all over Europe Later he is followed by his older married brother Albert and his wife and children As German hostility towards other countries begins so does the hostility towards the people who live in The Flats Regardless of their treatment by the citizens of Minneapolis The Flats sends it’s sons to fight when the United States joins the war while The Flats also continues to fight the war of prejudice against German immigrantsThe story shifts back and forth from Germany to Minnesota to Wisconsin and covers many years 1881 to 1968 but the story begins in a hospital bed in London in 1919This is such a well written well researched book about the period leading up to World War I and the immigration from Europe to this country My Dad’s parents were among those immigrants from Austria Hungary although they moved to Pennsylvania and later New Jersey They came just before World War I started raised eleven children and sent three sons to fight in World War II This book was a very interesting read for me personally and I highly recommend itThis book was won in a FirstReads giveaway

  2. says:

    Spanning than a half century Ellis's historical novel follows the German Kaufman brothers and their immigration to the United States The melting pot community of the Bohemian Flats clustered on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis becomes home to Raimund Kaufman and his brother Albert and family Ellis captures the families flight from Germany and their assimilation into the American culture Seeking to escape from his brutal fathers' insistence that he join the German Army or the priesthood Raymond changes the spelling of his name and the course of his life and ultimately his brother Albert's family The brothers offer the ultimate sacrifice for their adopted county as so many immigrants have This is a timely tale to remind readers that we are all immigrants and our differences are fewer than our similarities Family community and love of country are deeply imbedded in Bohemian Flats Readers will be rewarded by this deeply felt historical novel and Ellis's masterful storytelling

  3. says:

    I enjoyed the historical aspect of this novel very interesting Minneapolis community during the turn of the century I liked the way the author tied together events of the time WW I early days of immigration to Minnesota and Wisconsin growth of the city of Minneapolis However the story of the Kauffmans was very disjointed The characters were extensively developed ad nauseum in the beginning The WW I seuences were weakly developed and seemed not to be well related to the rest of the novel It was as if another violent short story and been superimposed on the base novel This was an interesting account of the people who populated the Flats area their origins day to day living and ongoing challenges but not a very good novel

  4. says:

    That joy came in acuiring not the tangible but the intangibleI like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past Thomas JeffersonPrettiness can only last so long but true beauty in a woman lasts until deathPapa says the body's function is not only to work but to be an instrument of love and therefore it is not something to be ashamed ofThere is nothing like a storm on the Sisters especially Sister Superior She does not roll a ship like the ocean does during a storm She punches and punches on all sides of a ship with her wavesBut Aino knows the feeling of holding a dead child knows that a mother is still a mother even when her child is dead and in being so is still the protector of her childIt is speculated that the land around Lake Superior contains some of the oldest rock in the worldConrad said that all a man can betray is his conscience

  5. says:

    My rating is a 35 It took me a while to get into the book but once I did I found it a fairly compelling read The back story on Raimund and the rest of the Kauffmann family was interesting and important for what came in the future Reading about the ethnically diverse area of Minneapolis and the lifestyle there was entertaining I wasn't sure what the point was of having Magdalena be sort of a seer; that didn't really add a anything to the story as far as I could see but it didn't detract either I like reading fictional accounts of areas that I am familiar with in this case Minneapolis and Northern Wisconsin All in all an interesting book which kept my attention

  6. says:

    Recently two book clubs gathered in the basement meeting room of a local library to listen to Mary Relindes Ellis via Skype talk about her research into and own personal history of her amazing detailed and well written historical novel The Bohemian Flats She was fascinating and well versed in her subject and as entertaining to listen to as her book is to read I would highly recommend this book for its portrayal of energetic and believable characters and for the history of the diverse people who inhabited that now gone area of Minneapolis along the banks of the Mississippi River It's an unforgettable story

  7. says:

    This book was slow to get into but HOLY COW did it turn out to be good It's about a family one of which leaves Germany and finds himself living in the Bohemian Flats area of Minneapolis along the Mississippi River It gives such a fabulous and rich history of the immigrants and the city of that time and how the immigrants started a life of their own in the US The characters were so well developed but I was left wanting to know a bit about some of them But overall an excellent book

  8. says:

    Just finished this book this morning I loved it The main characters are from a German family who makes there way to Wisconsin and Minnesota just before WWI It follows their story and how they are affected by the changes and especially by WWI My grandmother actually came from Germany as a 16 year old and I can just imagine her on the ship and train coming to Minnesota Good story and good character development that just kept me reading

  9. says:

    This is a remarkable book by a Wisconsin author It follows the Kaufmann family from Germany to MinneapolisSt Paul and a bit of Wisconsin as well One of my Book Club buddies said It is almost like poetry Her characters and descriptions of the geographic settings are very memorable I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to others

  10. says:

    Good story of German immigrants to Minnesota It seemed that most of the story is about the branch of the family who later moved to northern Wisconsin and settled there on a farm While somewhat predictable it was a good tale and held my interest Good summer read