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A FIVE STAR WINNER!
on January 7, 2013
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.