Literary Fiction (View all)
FAR TO GO is a powerful and profoundly moving story about one family's epic journey to flee the Nazi occupation of their homeland in 1939, and above all to save the life of a six-year-old boy.Pavel and Anneliese Bauer are affluent, secular Jews, whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of the German forces in Czechoslovakia. Desperate to avoid deportation, the Bauers flee to Prague with their six-year-old son, Pepik, and his beloved nanny, Marta. When the family try to flee without her to Paris, Marta betrays them to her Nazi boyfriend. But it is through Marta's determination that Pepik secures a place on a Kindertransport, though he never sees his parents or Marta again.Inspired by Alison Pick's own grandparents who fled their native Czechoslovakia for Canada during the Second World War, FAR TO GO is a deeply personal and emotionally harrowing novel.
Although reluctant to read yet another holocaust novel, this was one of those books that gradually drew me in, so that I began to look forward to picking it up again at night: the Czechoslovakian setting decidedly ruled in its favour too! The novel echoes the history of its author’s family, drawing upon the journey her grandparents once had to make from their native Czechoslovakia to Canada during the Second World War. By cleverly interweaving mysterious contemporary passages which she gradually clarifies (I prefer to describe them this way, rather than trivializing the book by calling it a mystery, which it is not), Pick manages to make her novel extremely interesting, and at no stage, despite its subject matter, does it become grim. The three central characters are convincing and well thought out, especially six year old Pepik’s nanny Marta, whose contradictions and failings are realistic and all too human. The Bauers are a wealthy and sophisticated, barely Jewish couple, who find themselves redefined and humiliated under the Nazi regime. They have one beloved son, Pepik, with whom they are eventually forced to part, sending him on without them to a foster family in London, along with many other children, some of them quite tiny, on the trains that became known as Kindertransport. The story, characters and lightness of touch, make the heartbreaking topic surprisingly readable, and the novel manages to add something new and worthwhile to a genre in which, being of Jewish extraction myself, I have read quite a lot.