Canadian writer Alison Pick (The Sweet Edge) tackles the Holocaust with this chronicle of a Czech Jewish family, the Bauers. In 1938, wealthy factory owner Pavel Bauer, a Czech nationalist, does not believe that the Nazis will conquer the country despite their inroads in the Sudetenland. Of course this is not the case. Life becomes more difficult as anti-Jewish laws take effect and the family is forced to flee to the countryside. They eventually send their son, Pepik, to England on a Kindertransport. The story is told, somewhat awkwardly, from multiple points of view. Marta, the family’s very naïve governess, is not always convincing and a contemporary Holocaust historian, unidentified for a very long time, provides letters from files about the family. The historical detail is accurate and well presented, but the story as a whole is less satisfying than other novels dealing with this period.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.