Often, by the time I get around to reading a book, I have no idea where I heard about the book in the first place. This is one of those books. I actually started reading the book months ago, couldn't get into it and set it aside. I just picked it up again this week and was able to finish it this time. (Side note, in my life, there have only been three books that I have started and not finished: "The Hobbit", "Catch-22" and "Captain Corelli's Mandolin".)
Although I finished it, I didn't love it. And that's ok. No one is going to like every book they read. I just wish I remembered where I heard of this one and what it was that made me want to read it in the first place.
Set in Montreal, beginning right after WWII, this is the story of a Jewish woman who arrives in Montreal from Europe, to meet the man she had corresponded with and who had promised to marry her. He has a bad feeling when he sees her get off the train so he leaves her at the train station and she ends up marrying his brother instead. But it is clear that she is not who she claims to be.
The story is told in alternating chapters between her story and the story of her daughter, who grows up not knowing her mother. The story really belongs to Ruthie, the daughter who grows up without her mother, trying to find where she belongs and how to deal with how different she feels from everyone else who has a mother. For reasons that are never fully explained, members of her family keep what they do know about her mother from her and her small attempts at finding her mother don't work.
I just wasn't drawn into this book. I didn't feel an emotional connection with the characters. I didn't understand a lot of the decisions they made. For that reason, the book just didn't sit well with me. I usually love WWII stories too, which is probably part of what drew me to this one.
One thing I did like about the book were the familiar settings around Montreal, hearing descriptions of places I've been and seen. That's always fun.
So, I thought this book was OK. A fairly light read, an interesting look at what defines us, but there are better books out there.