Kirkus Star


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What a varied talent is Franz Werfel's. This is as different from his previous books as they have been different from each other. The story is built around one central figure, the canvas is constricted, but the interest is well-sustained and the human appeal, built against odds, makes this a touching story. The title indicates the dominant theme, for this is the story of an old peasant servant, whose whole life has been dedicated to buying her way into the after world, through providing a pleader in the person of the nephew she was raising for the Church. Hers was a frankly selfish interest; she allowed him to bleed her consistently through the years, accepting his flimsy stories as fact, and avoiding contact with him through the long period of his education and early missionary experience. Then, when the family she serves is broken, she seeks him out. The aftermath provides the best part of the story, for the first part seems slow in getting under way, though the picture of joyous life on the big Austrian estate, before the Nazi betrayal, makes a delightful setting. Don't be discouraged at the start -- the book is worth while. A fine translation by Moray Firth.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1940
Publisher: Viking