This review is part of TLC’s Blog Tour for this book.
~ About the Book ~
Lettie has always felt different from and overshadowed by the women around her– this friend is richer, that friend is more beautiful, those friends are closer. Still, she doesn’t let this hold her back. She works hard to apply her mind, trying to compensate for her perceived lack of beauty with diligent academic work and a successful career as a doctor. She learns to treasure her friendships, but she still wonders if any man will ever return her interest.
Marco’s experience in the second world war have robbed him of love and health. When winters in his native Italy prove dangerous to his health even after the war has ended, he moves to South Africa to be with his brother, husband to one of Lettie’s best friends. Marco is Lettie’s first patient, and their relationship grows as she aids him on the road back to restored health.
In the company of beloved characters from The Child of the River, Marco and Lettie find a happiness that neither of them thought possible. With that joy comes pain and loss, but Lettie learns that life—while perhaps a crooked path—is always a journey worth taking.
Genre: General Fiction
Release date: 7 November 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
~ Excerpt ~
Lettie had always been her daddy’s dearest little sweetheart and her mommy’s pretty little darling. Lettie’s mom and dad were both short and stout and friendly. Lettie took after both her parents. She had always been a happy child.
But halfway through Form II she began to take notice of her friends’ looks.
Klara was continually tucking behind her hears the unruly chestnut curls that kept escaping their plaits. She had rosy cheeks and lovely green eyes. She was athletic and had a beautiful singing voice. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on her body.
Christine was small, with blond curls and blue eyes. She always looked slightly startled—not afraid, but uncertain, rather—and she battled a little with her schoolwork. Klara often helped her. Christine was pretty as a china doll.
Annabel was tall and slim, with shapely legs and golden skin. She was very good at sports and she was clever. She usually wore her long dark hair in a plait but, whenever possible, she would allow her shiny, silky tresses to cascade down her back. Her eyes were dark and she plucked her brows in neat arches, just like the movie stars. Her lips were full and her teeth pearly white.
Annabel was a stunning beauty, Lettie realized.
All the boys liked Annabel.
That night she took a long look at herself in the mirror in her mom’s bedroom. She was short and plump. “It’s just puppy fat, you’ll outgrow it,” her dad always reassured her. But she was nearly fifteen.
She leaned closer to the mirror and took a critical look at her face. Her skin didn’t look like Klara’s or Annabel’s. “Your complexion is a bit oily,” her mom said, “that’s all. It means you won’t have wrinkles when you’re older.” But at fifteen, getting older was of no concern to Lettie.
To crown it all, she wore glasses.
That night, in front of the mirror in her mom’s bedroom, Lettie resolved never to eat cake or dessert or sweets again.
Her resolve didn’t last long.
But the butterflies that fluttered in her tummy every time De Wet was near did not disappear. The feeling was more amazing than anything she had ever felt before.
Taken from “The Crooked Path” by Irma Joubert Copyright © 2015 by Irma Joubert. Translated by Elsa Silke. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/
~ Review ~
I’ve been wanting to read one of Irma Joubert’s books for some time now, so when I was given the opportunity to review The Crooked Path, I snapped it up. I’ll admit it took me a couple of chapters to get into the story, because it begins with a lot of narrative that provides a summary of Lettie’s childhood through to attending university during WWII. It may have been partly the fact that this novel is translated to English from the original language (Dutch or Afrikaans—I’m not sure which), but the writing in the opening chapters felt abrupt to me and even detached.
But then, in the third chapter, we meet Marco Romanelli, and although he is introduced in much the same way, I was quickly drawn into his story as a young Italian man in love with a Jewish girl as war breaks out in Europe. It was eye-opening to know just what some people went through to survive the war, and as his story progressed, I began to get an inkling of how his path might eventually cross with Lettie’s, and by then I was hooked.
Lettie’s mother once told her that life sometimes leads you along a strange crooked path, but in the end it will always take you where you’re supposed to be. On the other side of the world, as the political unrest heightens in Europe, Marco observes: “Even a crooked path has to lead somewhere.” This book takes us along those crooked paths with Marco, Lettie and Lettie’s friends Klara, Christina, and Annabel over a span of some thirty or forty years, navigating life’s important relationships—friendship, romance, and parenthood—and both the joy and the sadness encountered along the way. And although there are obviously times when the books skips large sections of time, there is continuity in the path the story takes through those years.
I really don’t want to say anything more about the plot—that’s best left to the book itself—but there was a sense in which this story came full circle by the end. I would have liked a bit more of a dénouement, as there wasn’t really any time to enjoy the ending once we got there, but this is an engaging read for those who want to experience life in a different time and place, and be reminded that even when we don’t get what we want, even when life takes unexpected detours, there is beauty to be found on a crooked path.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ About the Author ~
International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She’s the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.