Ida falls in love with Levi who becomes sick
From time to time further groups of settlers arrive. They are swarmed not for the skills and effort they offer the collective but for the effects they carry and must submit to be shared. There are resentments as talents do not receive the wider recognition they may achieve elsewhere. There are power plays at work as secrets are used as leverage.
Part Two is David’s story and was the most challenging to read as he is an intensely self-centred character. We learn why he had to leave the kibbutz he helped to found, and then how the events recounted in Ida’s tale are viewed through his eyes. David is the embodiment of the weaknesses of many men: lust, ego, a need for attention and laudation.
“All a boy wanted from his mother was comfort, and to be the centre of her universe. It was this they were trying to get back to their whole lives.”
There is an undercurrent of discontent, disagreements over how best to achieve the ideals for which the settlers strive, and what these may mean for the individual.
David talks of equality and freedom yet seeks out only the beautiful women. He regards them as existing for his gratification, including somewhat disturbingly his daughter, Ruth. Although he becomes irritated by the child’s demands he muses that he is pleased she is a girl rather than a boy. He quashes thoughts of his ineptitude as a leader and fears being eclipsed.
A poignant and powerful reminder that every relationship is unique, a construct created that is rarely understood by others, even those involved
The third and final part tells the same story from Hannah’s point of view. By now we know that she has had to live through heartache due to David’s actions but not yet the extent of his betrayal and its terrible consequences. In such closed communities secrets will not stay buried. They bubble to the surface, expelled in part due to guilt and mistaken belief that others grant them the same attention and importance as the bearer.
The structure of the story is a familiar device jarred slightly by the occasional interjections from the ghost narrator. It is a compelling tale to read but not one that is entirely satisfying. ”) and there are many limited snapshots of characters whose roles then peter out.
What is offered though is an understanding of how the kibbutzim were created: the hardships endured by the founders in their quest for a homeland, how the land was taken. Having lived in one, albeit briefly and as an outsider, it would appear the discontents I observed in the 1980s existed from what was reminisced about, particularly by the more elderly kibbutzniks, as the exemplary beginning. As a fictionalised history of the region this makes for interesting reading.
The author writes with compassion and insight while recognising both her and her father’s failings. A tale of the myriad forms of loss and grief, in life as well as death, that holds the reader in its spell.
An enjoyable, thought-provoking read that opens a window on a community that more usually gains negative comment. No easy answers are suggested, other than the need for both sides to listen and consider the consequences of imposing cultural divisions. I would be interested in hearing a Traveller’s perspective on this tale.
Monk Kidd succeeds in portraying the difficulties of being female in ancient times. The writing is smooth and each character introduced adds to understanding of options and dangers. Much is covered with varied characters and mostly convincing development. An enjoyable if somewhat lengthy read.
There followed a discussion about urban malaise. Naomi spoke of the differences in culture between London and Bath – the pace of living and demands made. Without wishing to idealise she mentioned how much more friendly Bath is and how people appear less busy. She told us the stress in London is insane.
Escape Routes is published by Tinder Press and is available to buy now from all good bookshops, including Mr B’s (click on cover above for the link)
“I added a compass, because it’s always useful, I’ve decided, to know where you are in relation to something fixed, even if you’re unsure of where you’re going.”
There is a gentle humour in the writing as key events unfold and threads are spun together. The author captures the pathos of aging, both the elderly James and his no longer young children. It is a nicely structured depiction of some of the challenges and risks inherent when bringing a stranger into intimate contact with a loved one. There are gently mocking observations to lighten any darkness in the tale.
Around the tower blocks of a Neasdon housing estate a group of teenage friends, raised under a mix of creeds, are seeking ways to carve a future for themselves. Life in the mixed community is hard with options further limited by family circumstances. The boys come together to play football, chat about girls and listen to music. They rarely talk about the detail of what is going on inside their homes and heads.
The story begins with Eustace in his fifties, now comfortably off and living in London but facing a health scare. The narrative moves between this time frame and his adolescence.
In tableaus through the turning of the seasons the reader is offered glimpses of the challenges faced by the idealistic young people as they drain and clear the land for ploughing and planting whilst going hungry and sleeping in tents. Her early age she could not have foreseen.