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Far to Go ~ Alison Pick

April 29, 2011

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial
336 pages
ISBN:  9780062034625
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Marta’s life is as normal as any life might be, living and working as a governess for a wealthy family in war-time Czechoslovakia. Though, at the rise of the curtain, Hitler has only just gotten a grip in the Sudetenland, the anti-Semitic sound machine is in full swing. The propaganda throws Marta into an emotional tailspin as she struggles to separate fact from fiction, pitting her own happiness and safety against her loyalty to the family that works and lives for.

Her employer, Pavel Bauer, is passionately headstrong and a countryman at all cost. He is convinced that neither the war nor high water will tear down his textile mill and all his family has built-in the city over generations. As the war sniffs closer, though, business becomes less of a concern as loyalties shift and priorities focus not on profit but on survival.

Told, primarily through the eyes of gentile, yet, affected, Marta, the story is crafted much differently than other world war two tales I’ve read, especially recently. Though it is Czechoslovakia, it seems to be a microcosm of the divided feelings, even on an  individual level, that wrecked havoc on those Jewish and non, through the entire conflict.

Being of middle and eastern European Jewish background, I know that my own family had to get out of dodge pretty darn fast when things turned ugly but I think that, often, things unfolded differently in the middle to eastern countries than they did right off the bat in the front of the continent. This shed a little bit of light on the shadows of the commotion where rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, employer and employee were more blobs of gray than the crisp lines that history tells of.

This is a tough read at times as there is a big inner conflict in Marta’s life. The events are nothing new to the world of ’30’s hiostory but, as I’ve said, the view-point and manifestation of the entire tale is just done very differently than I’ve come across. It’s a recommended read to anyone who knows little about the conflict but also very much so for those who have done their share of reading up on the issue.

About Alison Pick

Alison Pick is the author of two acclaimed volumes of poetry and one previous novel, The Sweet Edge, a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book that was optioned for film. She is also the winner of Canada’s prestigious Bronwen Wallace Award. Currently on the faculty at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Pick lives in Toronto.

Connect with Alison:

Alison’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 19th: Acting Balanced

Wednesday, April 20th: Reading on a Rainy Day

Thursday, April 21st: The House of the Seven Tails

Tuesday, April 26th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Thursday, April 28th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog

Wednesday, May 4th: Books Like Breathing

Thursday, May 5th: Diary of an Eccentric

Monday, May 9th: In the Next Room

Wednesday, May 11th: Rundpinne

Thursday, May 12th: Library of Clean Reads

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Chelsea permalink
    April 28, 2011 1:53 pm

    Sounds like an interesting story! I know relatively little about many of the countries affected by WWII – most of my knowledge centers on Germany, Poland, England and France. I’m already on the hunt to put this one on my TBR, and can’t wait to really delve in to the mind of Marta! Thanks so much for a great review!

  2. April 29, 2011 8:44 am

    I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I do enjoy it when it;s set during that time period. This book sounds like a winner!

  3. April 29, 2011 9:19 am

    I have read a little bit about Czechoslovakia during this time period, but this story seems to take a different angle than what I have previously read. It sounds like it’s a great read, and one that I might have to pick up. Thanks for your excellent review on this book!

  4. April 29, 2011 11:17 am

    I just received this book in the mail last week so I’m so glad to see a great review about it. I don’t think I’ve read much about Czechoslovakia but it’s time to change that! 🙂 I can’t wait to read about Marta and the inner conflict she goes through.

  5. April 29, 2011 2:46 pm

    This is certainly not a perspective or point of view that I’ve seen represented before. It’s hard to write about an “old” subject in a new way, but it seems that this author has accomplished that beautifully.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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