38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2012
This is the engrossing and highly readable story of "Lily Azerov" who has fled Eastern Europe after the turmoil and horror of the Second World War. In Palestine, she makes arrangements to marry a Canadian Jew, Sol Kramer. Sol, however, detects something not quite right beneath Lily's calm exterior. He decides not to marry her, but his brother Nathan does. However, all does not proceed smoothly: some of the actual Lily's Canadian relatives show up at the wedding and realize that this woman is impersonating their cousin. The imposter bride appears to have assumed Lily's identity in an attempt to escape the trauma and horror of her war experience. Not long after, the young wife, apparently fearing exposure by the true Lily's cousin, Ida, flees Montreal, her marriage, and her three-month old child, not knowing that Ida has her own painful past and no intention of calling this damaged young woman on her assumed identity.
The book largely focuses on the growing determination of Lily's daughter Ruth, who has grown up motherless, to find her mother and uncover the secret of her past. All she has to go on are the beautiful rocks her mother has sent her at irregular intervals over the years since Ruth was six, an uncut diamond, and Lily Azerov's journal, which was appropriated by the "imposter bride" somewhere along the way.
Author Richler has woven a richly rewarding novel of character,family, secrets, and history. In the Imposter Bride, she explores the deeply and uniquely human need to discover where we come from. Highly recommended.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Nancy Richler is a writer based in Montreal, and The Imposter Bride is the story of a young woman, Lily Azerov, who flees to Montreal from a devastated postwar Europe. Canada is not yet accepting Jewish refugees, so Lily immigrates on the pretext that she is engaged to be married to a Canadian. Sol has agreed to marry her, sight unseen, for a fee. However:
"When he saw the bride, he recoiled. Damaged goods. That's what he saw. A broken life, a frightened woman, a marriage that would bind him - however briefly - to grief. Let someone else marry her, he decided on the spot. He would never deny the widows and the orphans of the world. But neither, it turned out, did he want to have to marry them."
Lily is not what he had expected, so he leaves her high and dry. Fortunately his brother Nathan Kramer decides to marry her on the spot. But, it turns out that:
"Lily Azerov Kramer. She was not who she said she was.
No one really is, I suppose, but Lily's deception was more literal than most. Her name before... she'd left it there, in that beaten village where the first Lily had died, freeing, among other things, an identity card to replace the one she'd discarded, an identity that could propel a future if someone would just step into it.
Someone would, of course. The village was in Poland, 1944. Nothing went unused."
Lily has a child with Nathan, but with no explanation, suddenly disappears.
As she ages, Ruth, their daughter, is driven to understand the truth about her mother, about where she went, and where she came from.
A compelling and touching story.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2012
Nancy Richler's new book is well-written and full of interesting events and details. I had tears in my eyes when I finished reading it. I found the characters well defined and yet quite familiar. The plot evoked my sympathies and I could not put it down. The historical setting made it even more meaningful, for me,at least.I am going to read it again because I enjoyed it so much. Definitely recommended for all readers.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2012
This novel examines such an interesting idea: a woman assumes another person's identity in order to avoid persecution, and finds without her own name she is unable to be anybody at all. Like Richler's other novels, you just can't put this book down. Every character is so well-drawn, every situation is so rich with ambiguity, and the questions it asks are so important. Highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2013
What a great book, started reading and couldn't let it go. Near the end I slowed down my reading because I didn't want to finish it. This is one story that will always be with me.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2012
Like a previous reviewer, I had tears in my eyes when I finished this novel. The relationships created by the author are so descriptive and haunting at the same time. An interesting viewpoint of a W.W.II tragedy. I highly recommend this novel
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This review, as well as many more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (thebakingbookworm.blogspot.ca).
Note: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishing for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Thoughts: I was excited to read this Advanced Reading Copy for a few reasons. First, I have always loved reading about the World War II era. While it has always fascinated me, the books that I usually read on that subject tend to focus on the actual war and don't use the historic backdrop of the aftermath of the war. I loved that The Imposter Bride shows that the devastation didn't end with the war. Richler not only focuses on Lily's character but how the war affected the Jewish community in Montreal as well.
Secondly, the story had many criteria that I feel make up a great read. There was mystery, family drama, history and the fact that it was set in Canada was icing on the cake for me.
Being a very proud Canuck I loved reading a book set in Canada. When I came across a paragraph that mentioned Trout Lake in the Laurentians I was more than a little thrilled (I have spent many summers on the shore of Trout Lake in North Bay, Ontario). But it's with more than a little embarrassment that I admit that I don't read nearly enough Canadian fiction. Yes, I have my favourite Canadian authors (Kelley Armstrong, Susanna Kearsley and Lawrence Hill to name a few) but I know that I need to take a jump into the Canadian author pool more regularly to find those Canadian gems and experience the talent that is right in my own backyard!
Richler definitely knows how to draw the reader in with her writing. Right from the start of the book I loved Richler's voice which was engaging and made me want to keep reading to find out more about her characters. While Ruth was the main character of the story it was Lily who drew me in and kept me reading. Lily was a very complicated and tragic character. Here's this woman who survives the war, steals the identity of another woman in order to have a chance at a better life only to find that things don't go as smoothly as she had planned. I do wish that we had heard more from Lily's point of view after she left her family. I would have loved to have heard Lily's inner dialogue about why she left and what she was feeling at the time.
Overall, I liked this book. The characters were interesting, the plot had a good pace but, if I'm being honest, I felt a little let down when I learned why Lily left her family. I suppose I was expecting some huge family secret to be unleashed on the family. When I read the real reason she took off on her infant and husband it was less dramatic than I was expecting.
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. On one hand I loved the subject, the era and the characters but unfortunately it just didn't grab me as much as I had hoped.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It is after the Second World War in Poland when a damaged young woman assumes the identity of a dead girl she sees lying on the street. The name of the dead girl is Lily Azerov. The woman finds an identity card, a notebook filled with dreams and other scribblings written in Yiddish, a pair of woolen socks and a single frosted stone, which she knew to be a diamond. She puts the socks on over her own worn socks and everything else inside the waistband of her trousers. Nothing went unused in Poland. She didn't know Lily in life. This would be her chance of getting out of Poland to escape the horrors of the war and she was going to take this opportunity. She had lost her family and had no one but herself. She then assumes the identity of Lily.
She is determined to survive and she knew she should now flee. She stopped and closed the dead girl's eyes. This she did for the girl whose future she was stealing.
She remembers the name she read in the notebook, Sonya Nemetz and her address in Tel Aviv. Lily goes to Sonya. Sonya hadn't seen her Cousin Lily in a long time, but she knew this was not her Cousin Lily. Sonya wrote her sister, Ida Pearl in Montreal and told her the story. Someone landed on her doorstep and claims to be their Cousin Lily. Only Sonya can't remember Lily looking like that. Sonya feels sorry for her and invites her in her home and confronts the lie, but she doesn't flinch. She sends Lily to Mrs. Zlotnik who can arrange anything she needs eg papers, marriages, jobs and whatever is needed. Lily leaves the diamond with Mrs. Zlotnik to pay for her services. Mrs. Zlotnik was afraid that it was stolen, but she told Lily to leave it for a few days. It took a few months for a marriage to be arranged and it was. Lily was going to Montreal to wed the lucky bridegroom named Sol Kramer.
When Lily gets off the train in Montreal, Sol Kramer and his brother Nathan are waiting for her at the station. Sol gets cold feet and decides she is damaged goods and he rejects her. Nathan steps in and feels sorry that she travelled so far only to be left stranded. However, Nathan can't let this happen. He wants to marry her. He likes her and in a short time he grows to love her. Nathan and Lily marry and go on to have a baby girl they named Ruthie.
Nathan's brother Sol is sorry he let Lily go, but at this point he can't do anything about it. He then goes on to marry a young girl named Elka. Elka's mother is a Cousin to the "real" Lily. Lily isn't too happy about the situation, because now the "real" Lily's Canadian relatives are too close to the Imposter Lily. One day, Lily tells everyone she is going out to buy milk for the baby, only never to return. Before she left, she had prepared milk for baby Ruthie. She left Ruthie the notebook and the rock. Nathan and the family were shocked. Beginning with Nathan's mother, Bella, Sol's new wife Elka and the other women in the family, they all take over and look after Ruthie, giving her lots of love. Nathan, too, makes sure Ruthie has everything she needs.
As Ruthie grows older, she wonders why her mother left. Rocks arrive consistently in the mail, an ongoing communication over the years of Ruthie's childhood. Leaving rocks is a Ritual of Mourning in the Jewish faith. Ruthie is curious as to why her mother left her and her father. She asks Nathan, her father. Even Nathan has no answer.
Did Lily leave because she was coming close to being found out? Was her conscience bothering her? Was she in love with Sol? After going through the horrors of the war and losing her family, was she depressed? Did she kill the "real" Lily? Did Ruthie finally find her mother?
Nancy Richler has written an unforgettable book. The writing is clear and smooth. The characters are true-to-life. Ms. Richler has given us a wonderful look at Jewish Society in Post-War Montreal.
I enjoyed The Imposter Bride and can highly recommend it. It merits 5 out of 5 Stars.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2012
A wonderful book that I read in a weekend spent indoors with a cold. Great female characters and a great sense of time and place in Montreal. Every page reveals another layer of the mystery at the heart of the story.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2013
I found I faded in and out of interest in this novel, although more near the start. I would find an intriguing part, but soon after I felt bogged down by the slow but descriptive missives of daily life. However, in the end that time spent was good character development and gave a solid feeling of knowing the people involved.