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Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Review: The Imposter Bride

  Another talented Richler has emerged on the Canadian literature scene. Mordecai Richler's second cousin, Nancy Richler, has set her third novel,    The Imposter Bride (2012) in post WWII Jewish Montreal.

     The stories of the two central characters, Lily Kramer (the bride of the book's title) & her daughter, Ruth, are told in alternating chapters. Lily Azerov, a Holocaust survivor, arrives in Montreal in 1946 from Poland, under a false name for an arranged marriage, only to be rejected immediately by her intended groom, but accepted by one of his brothers instead. This actually happened to Richler's paternal grandmother.

     Richler has drawn on her own experiences of growing up in postwar Jewish Montreal, a community where loss & dislocation lay at the core of so many people’s lives. The women at the heart of this narrative are grandmothers, mothers, wives & daughters, each one of them harbouring personal grievances, grief, pain & passion, all connected by the enigmatic Lily. In many ways this is a mystery novel; the question of who Ruth’s mother actually is propels the narrative, as pieces of her story are slowly revealed, leaving the reader hanging until near the end. I do not want to give too much of the plot away. The question of identity lies at the heart of this novel: Ruth delves into the past, her own & her mother's, to salvage & make sense of her own fragile identity.

     This novel is both heartrending & hopeful. As author Ellen Feldman states: “Nancy Richler dissects the mysteries of family bonds and betrayals with stunning emotional precision and magical insights into the human heart’s ability to heal.”

 Diana Inselberg is a retired librarian and resident of Enderby.

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