There are so many questions going through one’s mind when one finds out that their mother left them when they were just a helpless baby. The reasons for abandoning children are unfortunately wide and varied, but there is always, ultimately pain in the end.
Yanna Marissa is a young wife and mother who has a dark past, pretending to be someone she is not. She comes over to Canada, expecting to marry Sol Kramer but ends up marrying his brother, Nathan instead. She has arrived at the train station on the false pretense that she is Lily Azerov, but the truth is—Lily Azerov’s identity has been stolen by Yanna. The real Lily Azerov is back in Europe, most probably deceased.
How Yanna knew Lily and why she has Lily’s papers is revealed to us in the end, but the lie is believed for a short while, until Yanna cannot face her guilt. She parts with unexpected haste from her Montreal apartment, where her daughter, Ruth is left behind in her aunt’s care.
The chapters alternate between Ruth’s voice—what she is going through, trying to find out about her missing mother—and what Yanna goes through from the first day she arrives at the station, to her running away.
There are also parts where we get to read Lily Azerov’s poetic words from her journal and we see the life she was trying to live, recording moments in her book with several emotions.
Many of the characters in the story have their own problems to deal with and are interesting in and of themselves, but it seems as if the women in this novel play a more vital part than the men do. The hardships that these women endure, whether from their married lives or career choices or the consequences of war really create an interesting plot.
I think Richler’s book is about finding yourself and the meaning of life, no matter what your background is or where you come from. Did you like this novel? Did you like that it was set in a familiar setting (Côte Saint-Luc, nonetheless)?
If you liked this novel, we have another book written by the author that you may want to read:
Your Mouth is Lovely (F R5313y)
To read reviews on The Imposter Bride please click on the links below:
From The National Post:
For information about Nancy Richler, click below:
It is quite surprising how there are no questions for book club groups with regards to this title. Once again, I have had to make my own guide to introduce some discussion. The following all come from my hard thinking noggin. Please feel free to use them in your circle of readers and to talk about in this forum.
1-Do you think Sol Kramer regreted the fact that he didn’t marry Lily Azerov after all?
2-Why did Ida Pearl keep silent about Lily Azerov’s real identity?
3-Elka really loved Sol. Do you believe he loved her the same way? Was it possible that he had some sort of relation with Lily Kramer after she married his brother?
4-Why do you think Ruth brought up the story about Mr. Czernowitz’s breakdown?
5-Do you find it right that Lily Kramer sent those rocks to Ruth every few years? Should she have stayed away altogether?
6-Why did Ruth and her mother never see each other again after the first reunion?
7-Did you get the feeling that Elka liked Ruth? Was she a good replacement as a “mother” figure?
8-The diary of the real Lily Azerov is a story by itself. Do you think Lily Kramer did a good thing by taking the journal back to Montreal with her? Or was it more of a selfish act?
9-Ida Pearl had a talent for cutting diamonds and diamonds play an important role in the story. Would you say that the diamond Lily Kramer brought with her symbolized anything?
10-If you were Ruth, would you have tried to find your missing mother after what you learned about her?
I tried to find information on the smuggling of people on the Slutsk river that Yanna recalls telling Ida but I could not find anything substantial. However, I was also curious of the ban she mentions that was in effect for artisan production of shoes in 1932, so I looked for information about that. There was a ban that really happened at that time and it was lifted on August 19, 1932. To read the actual article from the Wisconsin State Journal, click on the link below:
This book reminded me of …
There are three titles that bring to mind similar themes or feelings while I read this story. The first book is The Historian, because the main character is wondering about her mother who disappeared as well and she is hoping to see her again one day. The second book is The Invisible Bridge, if only for the tone and sadness that some of the characters experience during and after war. It reminds me most of Because I Have Loved and Hidden it. In this story, the main character is finding out about family secrets and the setting is also in Montreal.
Favorite quote from book:
From the words written in Lily Azerov’s journal: “My father worked with light, I told him. He captured light with stones. He bent broken light into beauty.” (p. 139)
Most pivotal moment in the story:
Everyone who read this story was just waiting for the secret or big reveal of why Yanna did what she did and how she is connected with Lily Azerov. We find this all out when she confesses her story to Ida. (p. 298)
Next month’s title:
Daughters Who Walk This Path by Yejide Kilanko