Nancy Richler’s fictional novel, ‘The Imposter Bride’, is a rich and rare story which looks into a family impacted by the aftershock of WWII and the deep secrets one can carry in order to survive.
As people scrambled to find lost loved ones in the chaotic aftermath of WWII, survivors were trying to find themselves.
When we calculate the losses of WWII, we tend to think of the number of lives, the towns and the cities - the physical and the tangible. Nancy Richler reminds us that the survivors lost much of who they were. She reminds us that the survivors are forever broken and just trying to move on; to survive. Their mutilated minds impacted the children born into the safety of their new home country.
In ‘The Imposter Bride’, Ruth receives a stone for her sixth birthday. It’s 1953 in Montreal, Quebec. The stone is from the mother she’s never known, taken from a lake in another Canadian province. In the Kramer family, it’s not a secret; Ruth’s mother walked out the front door, never to return, when Ruth was just two months old.
Lily Azerov arrives at a Montreal train station after the end of World War II, prepared to marry a man she has never met. It would be a fresh start, a new beginning. Her betrothed, Sol Kramer, took one look at her and decided, charity or not, he couldn’t go through it. He left her at the train station; his older brother, Nathan, picking up the responsibility of marrying her.
A year later, Lily vanishes, leaving behind her daughter, two diaries, an uncut diamond and the knowledge that her name wasn’t Lily Azerov. She had taken the identification from a girl who had died during the war.
Over the years, Ruth sporadically receives stones from lakes around Canada. There’s a natural curiosity and questioning to find answers, spurred on by the seemingly random gifts.
Clearly observant, Richler writes natural, subtle, awkwardness and misunderstanding with ease. She picks up the slight nuances of a child’s viewpoint that many writers often overlook.
‘The Imposter Bride’s’ style is quite reflective, which can leave the feeling of honey-like fluidity. However, it all becomes necessary, as it flows together nicely in the end; leaving a story that portrays an under-told account of loss and surviving in Jewish Montreal after WWII. The story and the characters are not ones easily forgotten, even long after you’ve finished reading the story.
Nancy Richler has released three novels: ‘Throwaway Angels’, ‘Your Mouth is Lovely’, and ‘The Imposter Bride’. ‘Throwaway Angels’ won the Arthur Ellis Award Best First Crime Novel in 1997. ‘Your Mouth is Lovely’ won the 2003 Canadian Jewish Book Award for fiction and Italy’s Adei-Wizo Award in 2004. She has also published many short stories in literary journals throughout North America. Born in Montreal, Richler has lived in Colorado and Vancouver, but has recently moved back to Montreal.
‘The Imposter Bride’ appears alongside Russell Wangersky’s ‘Whirl Away’, Kim Thuy’s ‘Ru’, Alix Ohlin’s ‘Inside', and Will Ferguson’s ‘419’ in the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2012 Shortlist. The winner of the coveted award will be announced on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 9 p.m. EST. Digital Journal will be reviewing all of the nominated books before the winner is announced.