22 July 2013

Far To Go by Alison Pick, Book review

Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 19, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0062034626


When Czechoslovakia relinquishes the Sudetenland to Hitler, the powerful influence of Nazi propaganda sweeps through towns and villages like a sinister vanguard of the Reich's advancing army. 

A fiercely patriotic secular Jew, Pavel Bauer is helpless to prevent his world from unraveling as first his government, then his business partners, then his neighbors turn their back on his affluent, once-beloved family. Only the Bauers' adoring governess, Marta, sticks by Pavel, his wife, Anneliese, and their little son, Pepik, bound by her deep affection for her employers and friends. 
But when Marta learns of their impending betrayal at the hands of her lover, Ernst, Pavel's best friend, she is paralyzed by her own fear of discovery—even as the endangered family for whom she cares so deeply struggles with the most difficult decision of their lives. 

Interwoven with a present-day narrative that gradually reveals the fate of the Bauer family during and after the war, Far to Go is a riveting family epic, love story, and psychological drama. 

Here are my thoughts:

Alison Pick's remarkable prose shows both the beginning and the end of one family's struggle for survival in a world gone mad. What makes her novel stand out is not just the human elements but the emotions felt by each character!
 For many Anne Frank's diary and Herman Wouk's The Winds Of War  top of course the list of WW2 novels depicting the harrowing events leading to the 'final solution'. 

In her novel 'Far To Go' Alison Pick includes letters ending with heartbreaking footnotes such as (Filed Under, Bauer, Lore, Died Birkenau, 1943)  but to catalog this fictional story is nearly impossible. Epic? Drama? Love story? Suspense? Take your pick, I'll wager however you will find this story unforgettable! There is almost an under layer of persona in her writing, her own search for identity coming out strongly. 

In 1939 Pavel Bauer, his wife Anneliese and their son Pepick live in Sudetenland. Like many secular Jews, Pavel's first allegiance is to Czekoslovakia, he cannot begin to conceive the extent of the Nazi's dark forces which threatens Europe despite the rumours circulating.

As the story unfolds young Martha, Pepik's nanny, becomes the pivot of this poignant recollection of dramatic events the Bauers are helpless from preventing. Hope is dimming as realization hits: no one can be trusted, neither neighbour or business acquaintance. Allegiances just shifted overnight leaving those who thought themselves different (because they did not practice Judaism), bewildered and friendless.
The author does a remarkable job of portraying each character, their hopes, their dreams and yes, even faults, including the crucial role  of the Kindertransport, and its humanitarian outcome.The story is at times poetic, at times crude but always realistic and ultimately beautiful!

As in all praiseworthy stories, there are good things and bad things happening in the Bauer's future. Juxtaposing the past and the present the novel brings readers a wealth of emotions not to be dismissed as they represent the very pillars of the plot line. 
Such a dark hour (in our not so distant past) should always be remembered even if like the grains of sand, names and faces have been erased by time. 
Any attempt to ratify this period is our only way to witness, thus making sure it never happens again!

Finally, Alison Pick's delicate prose shows the beginning and the end of one family's struggle for survival in a world gone mad but with a remarkable twist!

Don't miss it! 5+ Stars!!

Note: Due to Adult thematic contents, for mature readers only!


About the Author:

Born in Toronto in 1975, Alison grew up in Kitchener, Ontario and in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. She has a BA in Psychology from the University of Guelph and an M Phil from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. Currently on faculty in the Humber School for Writers' Creative Writing by Correspondence program, Alison Pick in Toronto where she is at work on a memoir.

Additional information may be found on her website (HERE)

Note to Readers: Unless stated otherwise reviews are not requested and this post reflect only my opinion!


  1. That is the exact place where my family comes from so I think I will check this one out. It would be fascinating, I think.

  2. Sudety? (Sudetenland) It would be fascinating Debbie as the author clearly details the area along with the period's atmosphere.
    I would love to hear from you once you have read it!
    All the best,

  3. I liked this story very much and could empathize as it relates in some ways to my own personal struggle during the height of the civil war in Sri Lanka when we sent all three children to Australia to get them out of harms way. Huge sacrifice but worth it.

    1. Mystica, I cannot begin to understand what a sacrifice this must have been for you. As you said, it was worth it and you were courageous enough to go through it!
      Sending love and hugs Friend! You are very special and your children must surely know it!


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