Little Betrayals

Patty Osborne

One’s day-to-day jealousies and misunderstandings are usually too petty to be meaningful, and the habit of putting aside uncomfortable truths is not usually life-threatening, but this was not the case when the Germans arrived in Czechoslovakia in 1939.

In Far to Go by Alison Pick (House of Anansi), we meet an affluent Jewish couple, Pavel and Anneliese Bauer, and their son, Pepik. Marta, their non-Jewish nanny, is a simple, naïve woman who loves Pepik, envies Anneliese, is secretly in love with Pavel and is having a clandestine relationship with Pavel’s employer, Ernst—all of which would sound like a soap opera if the reader did not know the awful consequences of being a Jew in a Nazi-occupied country. But we do know, and we keep reading even as we dread the train wreck ahead.

The small betrayals in Far to Go are understandable, given the human tendency to make assumptions about others’ motivations, but when these betrayals are combined with groupthink and a Nazi agenda, the results are almost always deadly.

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