Monday, September 5, 2011

Far to Go by Allison Pick

Far to Go: A Novel (P.S.)Far to Go by Alison Pick is on the 2011 Man Booker long list, and it really belongs there.  It is a gripping work that reads beautifully and easily.  It is one of my ten favorites of the year.

The novel is about a Jewish family in Czechoslovakia in 1938.  As the Nazis attack, the family must deal with fear, security and the unknown.  The family (a father, mother and young son) are barely affiliated Jews who must confront the fact that in the eyes of the Nazis, they are Jews.  The story is told from the point of view of their long-time nanny, Marta, a devoted, non-Jewish woman.  As she watches the horrors in the street and the impact on the family, she also must make hard choices.  A second (though minor) strand to this story is an unnamed modern-day historian who is studying the Kindertransport and the children that escaped.  Interspersed between the chapters are letters written to various family members, which adds to the authenticity of the story.

Having read many stories about the Holocaust, I was drawn into this one almost immediately.  Pick tells the tale convincingly.  The only critique is that Marta comes across as a bit naive sometimes, making her less credible.  Otherwise, the drama and pain that Pick portrays is moving.

If you like great historical literature, Holocaust oriented books or books like 22 Britannia Road, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, The Invisible Bridge, this is a definite pick for you.  It is a terrific selection for any reading group.

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