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  2. Review: Far to Go, by Alison Pick
  3. Far to Go | Quill and Quire
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I know that lengthy explanations can sometimes be tedious and laboured to read and if they are words that Pick is used to using because of her Czech heritage then it may just not have come up as an issue, but at least the first time a Czech term occurs it would be nice if there were some sort of explanation of what it means without me having to resort to constant Googling. The simple expedient of adding a glossary to the end of the book would solve this problem wonderfully. Aug 30, Friederike Knabe rated it liked it Shelves: Among the books written on this theme, Pick stands out in that she integrates the personal with the historical.

Inspired by her own family history, she interweaves the past events with a present-day narrative thread. One adds to the other's understanding in the reader. The primary narrator is Marta, an orphaned country girl, dependent on the family of well-to-do 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 , life for the Jewish population there turns increasingly precarious.

Pavel moves his family to Prague, convinced that they will be safe there However, it is only a question of time, before the German Army occupies Prague. Torn between her deep feelings for the Bauers and for 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 the family 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 life of those who escaped as children from Czechoslovakia thanks to the Kindertransporte.


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The narrator's "project" also explains to the reader the "reprinting" of various letters throughout the story. They inform us, primarily through their "file notes", of the fate of several of the novel's characters, post Overall, Far to go is a very moving story, simply told, that concentrates on the daily life that Marta and "her" family are confronting. The dangers hovering over the family are palpable. The tense atmosphere in Prague of the day is convincingly depicted. At times, though, I found the choice of narrative voice too limiting, Marta demonstrates a tendency for reducing complexity to oversimplification.

The characterization of Pepik's parents and their interactions, also with Marta, seem simplistic and soon predictable. The narrative thread centred on the Kindertransport and one child's fate later on is much too brief and, to me, does not convincingly convey the depth of trauma experienced in cases like this. We have, of course, powerful and deeply moving accounts on this topic, whether in fiction or not. Sebald's Austerlitz stands out for me as the most memorable among them.

Pick's novel is ambitious in attempting to deal with several daunting topics, some very personal to her. For me the balance and weight of the different threads are not totally successful. Jul 26, Liviu rated it it was amazing Shelves: Far to Go is a novel that is very well written and has all that I expected from it - lyrical prose and emotional content grounded in excellent research punctuated with quotes from the lives of many of the people involved in the tragedy of Europe in the late 's and a short note regarding their ultimate fate.

A story of Jewish people and gentiles, of relationships straining or blossoming under the extreme stress of the period, of a time of madness at which we sometimes look back and wonder "how Far to Go is a novel that is very well written and has all that I expected from it - lyrical prose and emotional content grounded in excellent research punctuated with quotes from the lives of many of the people involved in the tragedy of Europe in the late 's and a short note regarding their ultimate fate.

A story of Jewish people and gentiles, of relationships straining or blossoming under the extreme stress of the period, of a time of madness at which we sometimes look back and wonder "how could it happen? The storyline is well described in the blurb, though it has its share of unexpected twists and turns, but the novel stands out for its style first and foremost - the voice of the present day narrator and the third person tense and dramatic events of the late 's. The book flows so well that you cannot put it down when started and I found it well deserving of its Booker long-listing; if there is a niggle that stopped me from truly being blown away by Far to Go is its similarity in theme and even somewhat in structure with 's The Glass Room by Simon Mawer - another Booker long-listed novel - though Far to Go is very tightly written while The Glass Room scattered a lot in its last third taking away somewhat from its power.

Of course the novels differ a lot too - style, characters and their destiny etc, but the atmosphere, period, place I trust you enjoy your books as usual. The one before The Castle is excellent. And to the little girls. Died Auschwitz, " Marta works as a governess for Pavel and Annelise Bauer, an affluent Jewish family in Czechoslovakia. When the Sudetenland is given up to Germany in the Munich Agreement, in an effort to restrain Hitler, the Bauers though secular Jews fear for their lives.

They, thus, flee to Prague with Marta in tow. Believing they have escaped Hitler, they settle into new lifes. That is until Marta betrays them and the consequences of her actions will have a marked effect on her own life. This is the type of Marta works as a governess for Pavel and Annelise Bauer, an affluent Jewish family in Czechoslovakia. This is the type of novel that I am drawn to naturally. Having said that, this particular novel did not entirely work for me and I am not sure exactly why.

It has all the right elements and the prose is good. There is something with the structure of the novel that made it difficult to connect to the characters.

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It would have been good to know what especifically are the fictionalized parts but that is not disclosed. I find myself torn, I actually liked the book. It was a refresher on history the Munich Agreement, the Kindertransport and it has surprising twists. A decent book just not quite what I expected. Van kinderen die uit Tsjechoslowakije naar Engeland op kindertransport zijn gezet wist ik niets. Ze zijn van een wisse dood gered maar hun hele geschiedenis was weggevaagd. Wat weet je nog als je als vierjarige of soms nog jonger naar een ander land getransporteerd, wordt waar je de taal niet spreekt en waar je niets van begrijpt?

One of the longlisted novels for the Booker Prize , Far to Go is certainly attracting a lot of attention from readers and all with good reason - it's a refreshing look at a period of history which should never grow stale in our minds no matter how many years go by. The main focus of the novel is on the Bauers, a young, secular Jewish family living in Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia which has been invaded by Germany. Pavel, a wealthy factory owner, Anneliese, his stunning, self obsessed wife and t One of the longlisted novels for the Booker Prize , Far to Go is certainly attracting a lot of attention from readers and all with good reason - it's a refreshing look at a period of history which should never grow stale in our minds no matter how many years go by.

Marta, their dutiful Gentile governess, accompanies them, not so much out of duty but because they're all she's got - she doesn't hold Jews in the highest regard but, like a lot of ordinary Europeans caught up in the war, she probably wouldn't be able to tell you why. Eventually, all hopes are lost apart from those pinned on little Pepik who is sent on the Kinderstransport to the UK, hoping to be reunited with his family and Marta after the war.

Reading about the Bauers and their efforts including bribery to get Pepik out of Czechoslovakia will enlighten readers about the Kinderstransport and the heartache of separation albeit for a greater good, or what they thought was a brighter future As well as educating the reader, this novel also achieves a more balanced view of events as the narrator who divulges the Bauers' fate and who also holds their fate in her hands, is a Gentile with no political aspirations. Marta, the governess, is more concerned with looking after Pepik and protecting him from the growing anti-semitic feeling which is gripping Sudetenland.

She has little in common with her conniving adulterous lover, Ernst, who hopes to gain financially from Pavel's downfall. Still, she's no saint either and self-preservation is at the forefront of everyone's mind be they Jew or Gentile, Czech or German. What I love about Far to Go is its simplicity and unpretentiousness - the characters are flawed, real flesh and blood creations who find themselves in the most surreal of situations and whilst they aren't always the most likeable they are all the more credible as a result. Yes, it's a story which will affect you emotionally but it doesn't dwell on sentimentality and presents the truth in simple prose, in black and white.

The one minor difficulty I did have was getting into the rhythm of the story as several narrative strands are introduced very quickly, almost on top of each other - the story of the Bauers set in , a contemporary storyline whose narrator remains a mystery until later and also letters written by Jewish parents to the children they sent to the UK.

However, this is just a minor quibble for me and it quickly becomes a compelling, coherent read. Alison Pick has carved a fresh, fictional work out of the past experiences of her Czech grandparents who fled to Canada following Hitler's invasion of their native country. It's a fitting tribute to all those who did not survive and those children who were never reunited with their parents. Sep 23, Felicity rated it really liked it.

Yet another book on the Booker longlist that didn't make it to the shortlist. Once again, I trust the quality of this book speaks volumes about the quality of the books that did make it to the shortlist. I generally avoid holocaust novels.

Review: Far to Go, by Alison Pick

Perhaps that's not true, but I don't find myself racing out to read them. I never read nor saw "Schindler's List. I do read Lily Brett's holocaust novels, but I never go back and reread them--that Yet another book on the Booker longlist that didn't make it to the shortlist. I do read Lily Brett's holocaust novels, but I never go back and reread them--that's a privilege I reserve for her non-fiction only. Once of the nest movies I have seen so far this year was "Sarah's Key" about the role of the French people in the mass incarceration and deportation of Jews to concentration camps during WWII.

But I couldn't bring myself to see a similar movie about the same topic starring Jean Reno, released just a few months later. And I went to Amsterdam and didn't visit Anne Frank's house. But I did see "The Pianist. I need not have worried.

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There are no camps other than what we know is hovering in the background. This is a novel about how people lived as they slowly watched their lives collapsing and shrinking around them. It does not shy away from the difficult issues Where one might expect that the couple found solace in each other's arms, their marriage actually falls apart as they bicker and differ over everything, except, ultimately, the goal of saving their son. The novel is ostensibly framed around the kindertransport--the trains of Jewish children that were saved from certain death by the "kindness" of British families and businessman who organized for them to leave German-occupied territory during the war.

Part of what Pick is interested in exploring is the nature of survival for these children--the allegedly "lucky" ones, who emerged from the war alive but without any surviving family; often few memories of their origins; and no sense of their heritage. I perhaps would have liked Pick to push this further--to explore this complicated legacy a little more as the little bit she does is so tantalizingly compelling. She demonstrates so clearly how a few breakdowns in translation can frame people's memories for life.

The problem with holocaust novels is that we know how they end--there are no surprises. I can't promise this is a novel that ends with hope or redemption or anything but sadness, but it is well worth reading, nonetheless. Sep 14, Cj W rated it really liked it Shelves: Look what your protection has done. Now he can't get out of the country at all. And you can guess what he said" "There must be something we can do" "No," Pavel Said.

The decision was Winston's, in fact. Because, you see, there are so many Jewish children desperate to get out that is simply doesn't make sense to send those with a Christian baptismal certificate. A family li "You wanted to protect him? A family living in Sudetenland in a peaceful life. Along with his nanny Marta. Hitler however is on the move, and is soon able to take Sudetenland, and the family is forced to move to Prague. Although this is soon over run as well. The family is forced to make some heartbreaking decisions to keep their family safe, but also to keep Pepik, their only son, in safe keeping, and out of the hands of Hitler.

The story, which is most entirely in Marta's point of view, takes a sudden shift to Pepik. He is able to, after some 'convincing' from his father, able to leave on one of the last 'Kindertransport' trains out of Prague. Pepik takes the story at this point, and goes into a 6 year olds view of the Kindertransport, and his thoughts, feelings, fears and hopes, as he makes his way to, and stays with his first foster family in Scotland. Also the heart wrenching period of time alongside his foster brother, and the transition from his first foster family, to an orphanage.

This book is absolutely terrible, but good. I have always been interested in the time of Hitler, and the Holocaust, and stories like these, make my skin crawl. Even more so, since I am at least half German. The book is, although fictional, written based off of Alison's own research, into her own family history, and events that she pieced together, although the accuracy is, of course, in question. I also love, that at the end, it has a mini-memoir about Alison and her genealogy quest, along with her decision to convert to her ancestor religion of Judaism, a religion that had been weeded out of her immediate family during the Holocaust with the safer religion of Christianity.

It's a GOOD book! I will most likely keep this book in my mind as one worthy to read again. Picked it up at my local library. Aug 02, Steven Buechler rated it really liked it. A great piece of literature. It goes beyond the politics and the labels of the people of Czechoslovakia and deals with the human conditions of that era and beyond to our time. Page "I wish this were a happy story. A story to mae you doubt, and despair, and then have your hopes redeemed so you could believe again, at the last minute, in the essential goodness of the world around us and the people in it.

There are few things in life, though, that turn out for the best, with real happy A great piece of literature. There are few things in life, though, that turn out for the best, with real happy endings. And what am I doing, talking about endings so soon? The truth is, I don't even know where to begin. As a young academic I was taught to frame my research in clinical terms, to take the stance of a disinterested observer.

That was how to court fellowships, publication, and promotion. I was told that the relationship between professor and subject was like that between courteous strangers, when in fact the thing that draws us to unwrap a story, a particular story, is personal. If I've learned one thing over my very long career, it is this: We are looking into our own darkness.

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I've lived a quiet existence, working lat in my office, closed in by towers of books and periodicals. Avoiding faculty parties, the clusters of draduate students drinking pints in the lounge. I take my noon and evening meals along at my desk. I've been lonely, yes. In that way I might have been better to leave all of this alone, to let - what is the expression? After everything that's happened, what has this story given me?


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It has only aggravated my restlessness, that need to search for what isn't there. In what I've found there's been relief, true, but also disappointment. When there's nothing left to be uncovered. What I'm saying to you now is, don't get your hopes up. Don't expect some thunderclap, some burst of enlightenment. Life isn't like that - not yours, and not mine.

Low expectations create the most favourable outcomes. You'll see what I mean. Jul 12, Danielle rated it really liked it Shelves: I have a fascination with the Holocaust and things surrounding it. I know that sounds bad, but I think there is part of me that will never understand, never grasp, how something like that could happen. In a way, I am in awe of Hilter.

Far to Go | Quill and Quire

How he could command so many people to do his will. I am not saying I respect him or condone him in any way. I just can't believe that one person was able to have that much control over a nation. Although, today in the US, I do see my fair share of what I would con I have a fascination with the Holocaust and things surrounding it. Although, today in the US, I do see my fair share of what I would consider brainwashing About the book - It was a story about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, but not told in the typical way most books about this subject are.

It really was about the lives of a Jewish family living at that time. I very much enjoyed the book and the author's style of writing. It was an interesting perspective and had a bit of love story and mystery in it too. It was a very easy read that ended up being very heavy. Sep 30, maven rated it did not like it Shelves: I wanted to like this book more than I did, because of the premise of it.

Unfortunately, all the flashes between past and present wore away at my interest, and I just wanted it to stay in the past. The past story was a little weak, but I felt like the present-day part of the story really didn't add anything, and was a bit too overdone.

Of course, once I got to the end, and realized why these flashes happened, it felt like I could have tossed away the whole book and been better for it. Greatly di I wanted to like this book more than I did, because of the premise of it. I hope this seeming trend of historical fiction that places more emphasis on modern-day characters looking back on history, as with books like "Sarah's Key" which was really poor , will go away soon.

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It is not really about the war, because the story ends springtime en takes up sixty years later. It is mostly about the imposing threat. We know what happened in the war, we know that a tale about a Jewish family in that time can never have a happy ending. Nevertheless you keep on reading and hoping this particular family will find a way out. What takes up an important part of the story is the train with Jewish kids, w One of the best books about the World War II I have read in a long time.

What takes up an important part of the story is the train with Jewish kids, who were allowed to leave in and be sent away to safety in the UK. Throughout the book there are hints to this train, in the end the story of the children on the train unfolds itself. I really recommend it as a 'must-read' book. Apr 15, Amy Meyer rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Far To Go Author: Alison Pick Date Published: Historical Fiction; Contemporary Fiction Rating: A fiercely patriotic secular Jew, Pavel Bauer is helpless to prevent his world from unraveling a Title: Often the stories are sagas, spanning numerous years, a multitude of characters, issues and topics, their impact felt far and wide.

The story is fiction but I wondered, while reading it, if there were any threads of truth. This possibility occurred to me when I opened the book one day and my eyes fell on a page before the story begins. The author has listed the names of people I believe to be her family members along with the years of their births and deaths. Some have the last name "Pick", some "Bauer", the name of the family in the story. All of the older people listed died in or which sent a shiver down my spine. I was very touched by this list as it made the story seem so much more real.

Far To Go is an engagingly written, captivating and poignant story. Pick is also a poet. As such, her writing is simple, elegant and magnetic. She draws you in with beautiful phrasing and her writing is rhythmic. I found it difficult to put the book down but at times, had trouble continuing because of the distressful, foreboding nature of the story. The Bauer family, Pavel, Anneliese and their 5-year old son, Pepik as well as his nanny, Marta, are close, happy and loving when the book begins. But as the threat of Hitler and the Nazi's taking control of Czechoslovakia grows, fear and worry cause tension and bickering between Pavel and Anneliese.

It's not long before Pepik no longer sings or laughs. Pick is adept at conveying each character's emotion through their words as they discuss the fate of Czechoslovakia and their own personal future. She also manages to communicate a lot of important information in the dialogue, but it never feels forced or artificial. Initially, Marta believes that nothing bad will happen to the Bauer family, and therefore her, because they aren't "really Jewish," meaning that they aren't religiously observant.

Much rationalization takes place; opportunities to leave the country are not taken, because of the belief that everything will be resolved, or that it may affect someone else but not them, or out of a sheer stubbornness to protect a life and standing that standards of fairness should not allow to be taken away. Slowly, though, all these rationalizations are chipped away at, dismantled and proved false, until their fate is unavoidable.

Pick never tries to hide from the reader that they all die in Auschwitz.

This decision is a wise one: You know while reading that these characters have no hope of escape, and so you stop hoping for their escape, which allows you to focus on the small moments of human interaction that are the strength of this book. Marta is an extremely compelling character. She knows what Ernst is up to but never warns Pavel; she makes mistakes that make you want to give her a good hard shake; she never confesses small things which may have saved both herself and the Bauers, but she is entirely human and credible and convincing.

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. At slightly more than pages, the book resists the urge to overstay its welcome. It's very deftly structured and the storytelling is seamless. With rights sold in the United States, Britain, Holland and Italy, Far to Go appears poised to gain a wide and significant readership, and deservedly so.

Steven Galloway is the author of three novels, most recently The Cellist of Sarajevo. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe. If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters globeandmail. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter. Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here. African and Mideast Business. Denise Rocha 52 1 7. There could be two possibilities: Have far to go means you have a long distance you need to travel, it could also mean you have a lot to do on something you are working on Your sentence says don't have far to go which means a short distance or almost finished Sign up or log in Sign up using Google. Sign up using Facebook. Sign up using Email and Password. Post as a guest Name.