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Far to Go /hc Hardcover – Sep 4 2010


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: House of Anansi Press; 1st Edition edition (Sept. 4 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887842380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887842382
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #184,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Quill & Quire

Although set in the months leading up to Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Alison Pick’s second novel does not wrestle with sweeping ideological conceits about the nature of evil or the burden of memory. The Holocaust is faintly alluded to in the novel by hushed voices on the radio or a body found in the street, but it is never a fully realized presence. While Far to Go is not a Holocaust story in the traditional sense, it is a poignant work that brims with feeling.

The story focuses on the Bauers, a secular Jewish Czech family, as they cope with the twin struggles of an increasingly anti-Semitic cultural climate and a strained marriage. Marta, the Bauers’ nanny, is the novel’s eyes and ears, and also its heart. Naive to a fault and crippled by a compulsive desire for a family, Marta is the novel’s only fully realized character. Pavel, the Bauer patriarch, is a lionized, wooden white knight, and his wife, Anneliese, is spoiled and childlike. Seen entirely through the lens of Marta’s simplistic worldview, neither is granted any nuance or complexity.

The novel stumbles through a number of sections told by an unknown narrator, whose voice is woven into the central narrative and whose (easily guessed) identity is revealed as the novel progresses. Pick’s subject matter is compelling enough to stand alone without this contrived plot device.

But setting aside these missteps, Pick’s gorgeous writing is to be savoured: her prose is enhanced by a poet’s sensibility. She creates a richly imagined, sensuous world where flavours and aromas waft through the pages and every detail is vividly drawn. Far to Go is at its most moving in its final section, as Pepik is shipped off to England as part of a Kindertransport. Here, Pick heartbreakingly renders the child’s terror and confusion at being separated from his family. His disorientation mirrors our own as place and time are blurred in the narrative. Ultimately, the aching need to belong emerges as the emotional pulse of this deeply felt novel.

Review

Far to Go is a worthwhile and accomplished, if not flawless, novel. (Peter Webb The Bull Calf 2011-02-07)

...Alison Pick has crafted a powerful story...Far To Go demonstrates the devastation of war - and the effects it has on the children who grow up through it - without going anywhere near a battlefield. (Adrienne Brown Guelph Mercury 2011-02-04)

...what sets Pick apart are her modern chapters in between her looks into the past. (Telegraph Journal 2010-09-04)

[. . .] a [. . .] fast-paced, suspenseful, moving and unique tale. (Sharon Chisvin Winnipeg Free Press 2010-09-04)

The writing in Far to Go is clean, crisp and unencumbered. Pick never dwells for too long in an image or metaphor, and she creates small moments that are both lovely and frightening. (Steven Galloway The Globe and Mail 2010-09-10)

An intriguing experiment in the art of storytelling. (Elaine Kalman-Naves Montreal Gazette 2010-09-16)

...the Holocaust persists in the literary imagination and through the refining fire of fiction a new generation confronts its own version of what it means to be human (Geraldine Sherman National Post 2010-09-24)

Far To Go puts a new spin on moral compromise...shows terrific craft and emotional intelligence. A winner. (Susan G. Cole NOW Magazine 2010-10-20)

Pick has a knack for narrative and an ear for the authentic...a beautiful, haunting story. (Elana Rabinovitch Women's Post 2010-10-29)

...a page-turner... (Nancy Wigston The Toronto Star 2010-12-10)

. . . [a] spare, powerful novel . . . it is bewildered six-year-old Pepik, and his harrowing journey, that encapsulates the loss and hope and heartbreak that is the life-blood of this extraordinary story. (Eithne Farry Daily Mail 2011-05-12)

. . . authentic . . . Pick's writing is so gripping . . . (Jennifer Lipman Jewish Chronicle 2011-08-11)

Far to Go is a breath-taking, heart-breaking novel, and Alison Pick is a beautiful writer. (Angie Abdou Fernie Fix 2011-09-12)

A heart-rending story about a decision that shapes the lives of both those on the train to freedom and those left behind. (Grace Toby Chatelaine 2011-11-04)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By CK on Jan. 7 2011
Format: Hardcover
A beautifully written, spellbinding piece of work. The characters are compelling and the story's plot twists and turns in large and small ways. Every detail is captivating and full of suspense. The kind of novel that sweeps the reader away into another time and place. Very moving, layered, and powerful. Pick is a wonderfully talented writer. Strongly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cyn on April 2 2011
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the story and the way it was written. I really made you think about the lives of those involved in the war and how little things cause people to make decisions that may be entirely wrong and have profound effects. It was thoughtful character development and good writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By chalkie on July 4 2011
Format: Hardcover
Far to Go is a beautifully written, ingeniously constructed novel about a little-known event in the terrible story of the Nazi attempt to kill all the Jews of Europe. In 1939, around 10,000 Jewish children were sent by their parents to safety in Britain in a rescue mission now known as the Kindertransport. Alison Pick's novel follows one Czechoslovakian family leading up to and following that time. Although there is some shifting between 1939 and today, the story is primarily told through Marta, six-year-old Pepik''s nanny, a young, non-Jewish woman whose life is intertwined with the family she works for. Pick has created characters who are, like us, people living in an imperfect and morally complex world. We care about them and come to share in the hopes, fears, and sorrows they experience. This is a wonderful and deeply moving book. I loved it and recommend it highly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TimI on March 1 2012
Format: Hardcover
Far to Go is powerful and compelling writing. Pick weaves a well-researched slice of history into a moving story that will stay with you. I'm already looking forward to her next book.
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Format: Paperback
I read Alison's first novel last week and have just finished off this one.

I suppose what's usually expected about novels dealing with The Holocaust is breadth. The sense of 'the epic'. The subject certainly deserves the column space it tends to get. This isn't to say there isn't nuance, yes...but it's a subject that deserves to be treated reverently...and for most novelists, this means 'at length'.

Perhaps it's Ms Pick's grounding in poetry that allows her to present something of great poignancy without venturing into the 'overwrought'. It's a simple story with a short time-span with an equally simple narrative framework. While being limited in its scope, it never turns 'precious'. In fact, I think that the spare approach makes for a far more powerful story; Less in this case is definitely more.

It's not a memorable novel. It's not one about which I might say to a friend about 'You simply MUST read this!' But it's a loving paean to its backdrop, to family, to loss...to Love. I can absolutely see this being adapted for the screen...even though its scope might play against it in the end.

Looking forward to her next book.
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By Friederike Knabe TOP 100 REVIEWER on Oct. 20 2011
Format: Hardcover
Alison Pick's recent novel, "Far to go", tells the story of one family's efforts to survive the persecution of Jews in Czechoslovakia during 1938/39. Among the books written on this theme, Pick stands out in that she integrates the very personal with the historical. Inspired by her own family history, she interweaves past events with a present-day narrative thread. One adds to the other, thereby informing the reader's understanding.

The primary narrator is Marta, an orphaned country girl, dependent on the family of Jewish factory owner Pavel Bauer. Working as their young son Pepik's governess Marta feels very much part of the family. When Germany occupies the western region of Czechoslovakia in 1938, life for the Jewish population there turns increasingly precarious. Pavel moves his family to Prague, convinced that they will be safe in the Capital... However, it is only a question of time, before the German Army occupies teh city. Torn between her deep feelings for the Bauers and her pro-Nazi German lover, Marta's perspective on the unfolding events is hovering between trust in the Bauer's continuing ability to care for her and her fear that remaining with them might jeopardize her own safety. Her loyalty to her employer is soon tested.

The novel opens with the second, present-day story, written in the second person. Its narrator is early on introduced as a researcher inquiring into the fate of Holocaust survivors, who escaped as children from Czechoslovakia thanks to the 'Kindertransporte'. The narrator's "project" does explain to the reader the appearance of a number of letters "reprinted throughout the story. They inform us, primarily through their "file notes", of the fate of several of the novel's characters, post 1939.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By gabriel moyal on Aug. 15 2011
Format: Hardcover
Alison Pick's FAR TO GO is without a doubt the best-written novel of the year.
All those who I know have read it cannot understand how it got overlooked for the major literary prizes last Fall. Says something about the process, I guess...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Olajos on Feb. 15 2011
Format: Hardcover
This was the saddest book I've ever read, but in a good way. When I finished the last page, without a pause, I went straight back to the beginning and started again. I can't wait for Pick's next novel.
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