Monday, February 5, 2018

The Crooked Path- Irma Joubert

                                                                 My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: 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 have 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.

My Thoughts: My favorite thing about Irma's novels is that while the stories all depict some part of WWII and the Holocaust, that is not all that the stories are about. I think we often forget that people who survived the war had lives that went on after, and that those lives were just as important as what they went through during the war.

Marco is a prime example of this. My favorite character in the novel, he also suffered the most from the war: starvation, imprisonment, and <spoiler> the death of his fiance <spoiler/>. Yet once he recovered his health, he refused to let memories stop him from keeping on with his life. Though the war had changed everything he had ever thought to have, he still found happiness elsewhere.

Lettie's story was one that I both loved and yet wished could have been put aside in favor of more of Marco's story. Lettie managed to come through the war without scars, her only experience with it being in the lives affected around her. For her, the true pain came when, years later, polio found its way into South Africa. As a doctor, she struggled to mitigate the damage of a disease that she could not stop.

It was in the discussion of polio that Lettie's character lost me. Being a doctor, she often spoke of the disease, listing symptoms and treatment in medical terms, as well as citing medical journals. These sections would often cover pages, with the only break being Marco or someone else asking for certain words to be explained in laymen's terms. While it made Lettie's character more believable, it also dragged, with her using dates for every journal and discovery.

Also, while this book can be read separate from The Girl From the Train, I would not suggest it anyone who has not read Child of the River. Characters from that novel factor heavily into the lives of Lettie and Marco, with their stories overlapping, and I am not sure that I would have fully understood what was happening with those characters had I not read the other book first. That said, The Crooked Path serves a sweet epilogue to Persomi's story from the last book.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book from the publisher.

No comments:

Post a Comment