The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert

My Review

I have read other books by Irma Joubert and am always fascinated by her writing style.  I attribute a lot of her style to being from South Africa and having different authorial mentors and colleagues. She delves deeply into the lives of the people, surroundings and time frame; because of this, her stories are rich in content. The Crooked Path is the same.

**********May Contain Spoilers**********

There are four distinct stories presented.

The first story deals with Lettie, a socially inept, awkward young lady, more interested in academia than “playing games.” Her focus and determination pay off in the form of the title and career as a doctor. She is vested in her patients from day one.

The second story deals with Marco and his childhood love, Rachel.  The story of Marco and Rachel is sad and poignant, dealing with many of the atrocities endured by the Jewish during WWII. This portion of the story is at times difficult and heartbreaking to read.

The third story centers on Marco and Lettie, beginning with Lettie becoming Marco’s doctor. There are many sweet, endearing moments. However, there is much sadness, too.

The fourth story focuses on Lettie’s life after Marco. This portion of the story for me was a little off. There were parts where Lettie’s childhood daydreams seemed to be coming true, yet she put up every roadblock possible, and it just didn’t ring true to me.

************************

Overall, The Crooked Path was a unique book. Poignant and heart-tugging, it will leave a mark on you, leaving you with the question, “Is a crooked path a journey worth taking?”

(Caution-the story is targeted to the over 16 age group.)

I received this book from The Fiction Guild sponsored by Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

From the bestselling author of The Girl From the Train, comes another compelling coming of age story of delayed love, loss, and reconciliation in WWII-era South Africa.

Lettie has always felt different from and overshadowed by the women around her– this friend is richer, that friend is more beautiful, those friends are closer. Still, she doesn’t let this hold her back. She works hard to apply her mind, trying to compensate for her perceived lack of beauty with diligent academic work and a successful career as a doctor. She learns to treasure her friendships, but she still wonders if any man will ever return her interest.

Marco’s experience in the second world war has robbed him of love and health. When winters in his native Italy prove dangerous to his health even after the war has ended, he moves to South Africa to be with his brother, husband to one of Lettie’s best friends. Marco is Lettie’s first patient, and their relationship grows as she aids him on the road back to restored health.

In the company of beloved characters from The Child of the River, Marco and Lettie find a happiness that neither of them thought possible. With that joy comes pain and loss, but Lettie learns that life—while perhaps a crooked path—is always a journey worth taking.

Advertisements

Friday’s Fiction

The Girl from the Train

The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert

About the Book

Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They mean to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her home. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

My Thoughts

Irma Joubert has written an exceptional and unique book.

Gretl Schmidt is six years old when she and her relatives board a train, bound for Switzerland, she thinks, to find her uncle. Germany invaded her homeland, Poland, and even though she is the daughter of a distinguished SS soldier, she also has Jewish blood in her, from her mom’s side of the family.  While on the train, her grandmother forces her and her sister to jump, promising she will meet up with them later.

Thus begins Gretl’s journey and the beginning of her growing up. Her story spans approximately 15 years until she is around age 22. The Girl from the Train is rich with the history of Poland during World War II and continues into South Africa in the 1950’s. Written from the viewpoint of Gretl and her friend Jakób, through the years, the novel gives a rare and unusual perspective of the changing of time.

The story is long (384 pages) and filled with history; it is at times hard to read, but in the end, worth the time it takes to complete.

I received this book from The Fiction Guild sponsored by Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.