One of RWB's favorite books is Away by Amy Bloom. And one of the nice surprises we had with our week's shipment was the arrival of the paperback copies of this particular favorite. Thus, I thought it might be a good idea to introduce this book to those who haven't had the pleasure yet of reading Amy Bloom.
The story revolves around Lilian Leyb who loses her family in a horrific pogrom in Russia. She makes her way to America where she ends up a seamstress in the Burstein theater and subsequently the mistress of both father and son. One day her cousin brings her news that her daughter Sophie, whom she believes perished in the pogrom is alive. And currently living in Siberia. She has no choice but to go and find Sophie. What distinguishes the trip she makes is that she decides to go all across the width of the US till she reaches the Canada where she will sail the Yukon river till it she reaches the Bering Straight where she will finally cross over to Siberia. Needless to say her journey is fraught with all sorts of danger and involves encounters with prostitutes, jail inmates and lonely telegraph operators all across the Yukon line.
The words well written and moving doesn’t even begin to cover this virtuoso work by Bloom. She has written a special kind of road trip novel that is by turns funny, sexy, bitter, sometimes shocking and always intelligent. Lilian is quite a character and I mean that in the best possible sense. The things that happen to her are at times incomprehensible but Bloom’s writing makes it all believable and its not hard to be swept away by the story. There is something so beautiful about Bloom’s writing that one is completely carried off by it. I love the fact that every character that Lilian meets is given his or her own proper ending within the book. Bloom’s prose carries off these mini-stories if you will, on their own wave and intersects beautifully with Lilian’s own tale. If you haven't read this book yet, now is the time to do so.