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Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
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Irma Voth (2011)

by Miriam Toews

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2784140,656 (3.51)34
  1. 00
    Cool Water by Dianne Warren (Cecilturtle)
  2. 00
    Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg (eleanor_eader)
    eleanor_eader: DFATMM is more definitively 'Young Adult' than Irma Voth, but a great coming-of-age tale from the point of view of a smart girl with a lot of questions. Not as dark as Irma Voth in themes, more humorous, (Toews is sparser with language, but perhaps more effective for it) but DFATMM also describes a complex unfolding into adulthood and Flagg is gifted with characterisation skills that remind me of Toews, or vice-versa.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
I liked this book although not as much as other Toews' works. She has a very distinctive style of narration which mostly works well for me but which I occasionally find confusing. I found that the story finished in a slightly unclear way and perhaps a little abruptly, but I accept that this is part of the point of the story. As always in Toews' work there seems to be a strong element of father-daughter relationship, and I assume this to be due to the powerful impact Toews' own father had on her. I'm interested in this, and so my next Toews book with be her memoir of her father. ( )
  oldblack | Apr 11, 2015 |
It’s my year of reading female presenting writers, and Miriam Toews is quickly becoming a favorite. This is my second Toews book, and, like the first, All My Puny Sorrows, stays close to her own experience of growing up in a small Mennonite town. The main characters share her Mennonite roots and are struggling to cope with the big problems that exist whether or not your community chooses to try to shut out the world. The protagonists in these novels have few tools at their disposal to address these problems other than their determination, desire, and resiliency.

The family patriarch has cast out the heroine, Irma, because she eloped with a Mexican. As the story unfolds, she bumbles towards freedom and a perceived better life with her sisters. Only at the end do we start to understand the reasons for so much of what happens to her.

Toews creates wonderfully flawed characters that I can’t help but like even as they fumble from one catastrophe to the next. The dialogue between Irma and her sister Aggie frequently had me laughing out loud even as I recognized the stubborn sibling interactions that careen between wanting to be close and wanting nothing to do with each other.

I will definitely be seeking out more of Toews books in the future. Up next, probably either A Complicated Kindness or The Flying Troutmans.

Thanks to Powell’s Books Indiespensable Subscription Club for turning me on to this book. ( )
  jveezer | Apr 5, 2015 |
Memonite USA family story. 2 sisters flee violent fatther to odd ball life in Mexico. Written in quirky but engaging style.
  MarilynKinnon | Jan 22, 2015 |
though i value finding the familiarity of the setting, as it is part of my family history, i am struggling with the language. continual swears become repetitive and an infection i know i'm capable of preventing. not sure if the story is worth the struggle. at this point reconsidering the read...
now done . ( )
  FHC | Jun 13, 2013 |
Irma Voth, 19, is newly married and newly deserted. A film crew moves into the area and she is hired as a translator.
The story takes place in Mexico and is probably inspired by the author's involvement in the movie "Silent Light" (which I saw with Kathy).
In this novel, there is, once again, a miserable violent father. In fact, he has killed Irma's older sister. Irma tries to protect her younger sister. Irma's mother has a baby and gives the baby to Irma when she escapes in order to protect the baby from the father. She tries to begin a new life in Mexico City and is fortunate in finding people who help her greatly.
At the end of the movle, she returns to her farm home and you don't know the reception she receives.
No characters of interest.
No ending worth reading.
After 6 weeks of a course in Miriam Toews, I still find no value in her writing. ( )
  bettyroche | Jun 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Funny and skilfully drawn, this novel shows the real appeal of tales set in unknown communities: that underneath the unfamiliar surfaces are the exact same people – a teenage girl trying to find out who she is and how to live, driven by familiar dreams and desires, and the same need for security, love and some sense of fulfilment.
 
A good deal of Irma Voth takes place around the filming of the movie. It's a low budget art movie with great sweeping landscape shots, directors waiting for the rain, locals acting in parts when and if they appear for the shooting. Comical and sad, beautiful and dull, these scenes evoke feelings, emotions and memories in Irma. .. Irma Voth contains all of this—humour, loveable characters who find themselves—but it is slower and more contemplative, it is more subtle and a bit darker than her other books....
 
Irma Voth is about forgiveness, of others, and oneself. It’s a novel that seems to mistrust words, and chooses them with care. The early chapters on the film set suffer slightly from the ennui and chaos that are part of that process, but once the Voth girls land in Mexico City, Toews’s ability to generate comedy and heartache at the same time just soars.

 
If Irma Voth lacks both the perfect structure and colloquial manner of Toews’ Governor General’s Literary Award–winning A Complicated Kindness, this is partly explained by the fact that the new novel is a different kind of undertaking entirely: one that pushes the limits of plot and language. The deceptive simplicity of the prose makes it difficult at first to see how ambitious the novel actually is. It isn’t flawless, but it is beautiful, strange, and fascinating, and readers wise enough to trust in the author’s sure hand will be rewarded with a novel that takes them someplace altogether unexpected.

 
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For my mother, Elvira.
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Jorge said he wasn't coming back until I learned how to be a better wife.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062070185, Hardcover)

That rare coming-of-age story able to blend the dark with the uplifting, Irma Voth follows a young Mennonite woman, vulnerable yet wise beyond her years, who carries a terrible family secret with her on a remarkable journey to survival and redemption.

Nineteen-year-old Irma lives in a rural Mennonite community in Mexico. She has already been cast out of her family for marrying a young Mexican ne’er-do-well she barely knows, although she remains close to her rebellious younger sister and yearns for the lost intimacy with her mother. With a husband who proves elusive and often absent, a punishing father, and a faith in God damaged beyond repair, Irma appears trapped in an untenable and desperate situation. When a celebrated Mexican filmmaker and his crew arrive from Mexico City to make a movie about the insular community in which she was raised, Irma is immediately drawn to the outsiders and is soon hired as a translator on the set. But her father, intractable and domineering, is determined to destroy the film and get rid of the interlopers. His action sets Irma on an irrevocable path toward something that feels like freedom.

A novel of great humanity, written with dry wit, edgy humor, and emotional poignancy, Irma Voth is the powerful story of a young woman’s quest to discover all that she may become in the unexpectedly rich and confounding world that lies beyond the stifling, observant community she knows.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:16 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

This novel follows a young Mennonite woman, vulnerable yet wise beyond her years, who carries a terrible family secret with her on a remarkable journey to survival and redemption. Nineteen-year-old Irma lives in a rural Mennonite community in Mexico. She has already been cast out of her family for marrying a young Mexican ne'er-do-well she barely knows, although she remains close to her rebellious younger sister and yearns for the lost intimacy with her mother. With a husband who proves elusive and often absent, a punishing father, and a faith in God damaged beyond repair, Irma appears trapped in an untenable and desperate situation. When a celebrated Mexican filmmaker and his crew arrive from Mexico City to make a movie about the insular community in which she was raised, Irma is immediately drawn to the outsiders and is soon hired as a translator on the set. But her father, intractable and domineering, is determined to destroy the film and get rid of the interlopers. His action sets Irma on an irrevocable path toward something that feels like freedom. This is the powerful story of a young woman's quest to discover all that she may become in the unexpectedly rich and confounding world that lies beyond the stifling, observant community she knows.… (more)

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