Ask anyone at the KIRBC (the book club I regularly attend) and they’ll tell you I’m a huge fan of Miriam Toews. It’s a well-known fact that if she has a new book, I will bring it and discuss in lengthy detail about how she’s a fabulous writer, she takes you to a world you’ve never been before and she creates memorable and heart warming characters. If I were sitting around all these wonderful people, I would once again have another Miriam Toews book to rave about… however, since I’m not around the fabulous minds of the KIRBC gang and I’m sitting in shorts, with a baggy sweatshirt in the comfort of my home, I’ll pitch her book using my blog to put out the word that Miriam Toews has once again hit it out of the ball park.
Miriam Toews, well-known for her past (winning) work, “A Complicated Kindness” and “The Flying Troutmans” (to name just a few) is a Canadian writer that hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Not only is she talented when it comes to writing, but she has evolved her artistic ways and recently participated in a Mexican film called, “Luz silencious” which means “Silent Light”. Her participation in this film not only expanded her already impressive resume, but it inspired her most recent book “Irma Voth“. A book that once again, brings us into the Mennonite community and lets us experience day-to-day life in a young, impressionable girls world.
The book starts in a small Mexican community in Chihuahua city, where the Mennonite family, the Voth’s reside. Originally from Canada, the family keeps to themselves and minds their business. Early on, we’re introduced to Jorge, a Mexican man who intrigues Irma and the two fall in love. Without the support of her family, Irma decides to marry Jorge and even though her Father disowned her and essentially makes the rest of her family disown her, he makes sure that she stays near by in a home that belongs to their family. Things start to unravel with Jorge in the beginning of the story and I didn’t find myself connecting with his character at all and to be honest, I don’t think we were meant to really connect with him, because he plays such a minor, yet pivotal role. When things fall apart with Jorge, Irma is abandoned by her family and her husband and is looking for some kind of direction, essentially a sense of purpose.
The story really takes off when a film crew comes into town, residing in the house next to Irma (once occupied by her cousins). Her curiosity gets the best of her and she wanders over to the home and introduces herself to everyone. Diego, the director of the film sees her potential right away by her wide range of languages, he quickly hires her as a translator for the crew and in particular to assist lead actress of the film, 41 year old Marijke. Now feeling like she’s needed and wanted, she embraces her new job and connects to the crew. The crew not only helps her to broaden her horizons, but helps her to see that there is life beyond her husband who abandoned her and her Father who disowned her might not be so scary after all.
It wouldn’t be a Miriam Toews novel if there wasn’t some element of a road trip. She has an uncanny ability to develop and strengthen her characters personality by placing them on the road and the putting them on a path to self discovery. To discuss the second half of the novel in detail would be a disadvantage, because it would rob the story as a whole; I swear, I’m not just saying that so I don’t have to type anymore! It’s a story that is filled with character development and growth and on top of all that, it’s a fabulous read that reminded me why I have Miriam Toews in my top 10 list of favorite authors. She’s a talented, thought-provoking author that continues to write fabulous Canadian literature!