FAR TO GO

Alison Pick

When Czechoslovakia relinquishes the Sudetenland to Hitler, the powerful influence of Nazi propaganda sweeps through towns and villages like a sinister vanguard of the Reich’s advancing army. A fiercely patriotic secular Jew, Pavel Bauer is helpless to prevent his world from unraveling as first his government, then his business partners, then his neighbors turn their back on his affluent, once-beloved family. Only the Bauers’ adoring governess, Marta, sticks by Pavel, his wife, Anneliese, and their little son, Pepik, bound by her deep affection for her employers and friends. But when Marta learns of their impending betrayal at the hands of her lover,

more …

When Czechoslovakia relinquishes the Sudetenland to Hitler, the powerful influence of Nazi propaganda sweeps through towns and villages like a sinister vanguard of the Reich’s advancing army. A fiercely patriotic secular Jew, Pavel Bauer is helpless to prevent his world from unraveling as first his government, then his business partners, then his neighbors turn their back on his affluent, once-beloved family. Only the Bauers’ adoring governess, Marta, sticks by Pavel, his wife, Anneliese, and their little son, Pepik, bound by her deep affection for her employers and friends. But when Marta learns of their impending betrayal at the hands of her lover, Ernst, Pavel’s best friend, she is paralyzed by her own fear of discovery—even as the endangered family for whom she cares so deeply struggles with the most difficult decision of their lives. Interwoven with a present-day narrative that gradually reveals the fate of the Bauer family during and after the war, Far to Go is a riveting family epic, love story, and psychological drama.

less …
  • Harper Perennial
  • Paperback
  • May 2011
  • 336 Pages
  • 9780062034625

Buy the Book

$14.99

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Alison Pick

Alison Pick is the author of two acclaimed volumes of poetry and one previous novel, The Sweet Edge, a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book that was optioned for film. She is also the winner of Canada’s prestigious Bronwen Wallace Award. Currently on the faculty at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Pick lives in Toronto.

Praise

“The writing in Far to Go is clean, crisp and unencumbered. Pick never dwells for too long in an image or metaphor, and she creates small moments that are both lovely and frightening. At slightly more than 300 pages, the book resists the urge to overstay its welcome. It’s very deftly structured and the storytelling is seamless. With rights sold in the United States, Britain, Holland and Italy, Far to Go appears poised to gain a wide and significant readership, and deservedly so.”
—Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“[A] nuanced and layered portrait of betrayal. . . . What makes this novel special is not so much its storyline as Pick’s challenging, even audacious way of recounting it. . . . The strength of Far to Go lies in Pick’s ability to show precisely why one person could turn on another, how a single word spoken on impulse could have devastating results. . . . An intriguing experiment in the art of storytelling. Far to Go explores the ways in which truths and facts can be assembled, reassembled and jiggled this way and that, like so many fragments of stained glass inside a kaleidoscope.”—Montreal Gazette

“Inspired by Pick’s grandparents’ own story, Far to Go is a haunting and suspenseful read, one that’s sure to stay with you long after the last page is turned.”—Torontoist.com

Discussion Questions

In Far To Go,  Pavel and Anneliese Bauer are presented with an impossible choice. They must either send their young son away to strangers in a far away land, or else risk the political consequences of keeping him with them.  Do you think they made the right decision? What would you have done in their situation?

Far To Go is told from the perspective of Marta, who is governess to the young Pepik. Why do you think the author chose Marta as the narrator? Is she reliable or unreliable? What perspective does she offer that the Bauers themselves do not?

What roles do Sophie and Ernst play in the Bauers’ story? Why are they included? How are they different from the other characters? How are they the same?

While the vast majority of Jews are scrambling to get out of Czechoslovakia in early 1939, Pavel Bauer refuses to leave, and clings to his homeland. Why does he do this? Is it realistic? What would you do if you were him?

Marta reveals a secret to Ernst that ultimately costs the Bauers their lives. Why does she do this? What kind of background do you think she comes from? How does her own family history influence her actions in the present?

The Bauers’ story is interspersed with segments from a modern-day narrator whose identity is slowly clarified over the course of the book. Did this mediating voice add to or detract from the principal storyline? When and how did you realize who the voice belonged to?

The ‘Kindertransport’ section of Far To Go  is told from Pepik’s perspective. In what other ways is this section unique? How did it affect you to hear a child’s point of view so late in the book?

The ending of Far To Go reveals an unexpected plot twist. What was your reaction to learning that the historical events had actually been written by the modern-day narrator? Did you expect this?

What genre does Far To Go fall under? Mystery? Romance? Historical Fiction?

If Far To Go  is made into a Hollywood movie, who should play Marta? What about the other characters (Pavel, Anneliese, Pepik, Ernst, Sophie, and Lisa)?