“An interesting story set in interesting times, a powerful combination.”
This is an extraordinary account of a young Jewish girl whose childhood was torn apart by the Nazis, who made her way as a dancer, as an actress, as a designer, from Sofia to Vienna to London to Hollywood.
Dora Reisser was highly successful in her three careers, and here she tells her heartrending, exciting story with humour and honesty – the little-known story of how Bulgaria’s Jews survived the Holocaust, her life in post-war Vienna, and her rise to become one of the leading dancers in the Vienna Opera. A refugee from the Nazi regime as a child, Dora trained and danced with the Vienna Opera as their youngest solo dancer until an accidental fall in her late teens ended her dancing career. She then moved to London and studied theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. After a career on British television, in a few Hollywood films and on the stage, she gave up her acting career to raise a family and, beginning in the 1980s, she became one of Britain’s leading fashion designers.
Dora went from wealth to poverty, heartbreak and danger, and bounced back again and again, with all the vigour and determination of a Jewish Scarlett O’Hara. She knew the world of Harry Lime and Bernie Cornfeld, the KGB and the early days of Israel, and had lovers along the way. She uniquely describes the hard and painful world of ballet, the exaltation of success, and the despair of a career tragically curtailed.
We sometimes forget about the generation whose parents’ lives were destroyed by Hitler and who had to reconstruct their souls amid the rubble and ruins that were all that was left of Old Europe. Dora’s Story is a tale of triumph over every possible adversity, a story of terror and hunger and persistence. Above all, it is the tale of a survivor.
“The most moving and straightforward self-appraisal I have ever read.”
“A marvellous book.”
Michael Billington, The Guardian