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What a varied talent is Franz Werfel. This is as different from his previous books as they have been different from each other. This is a story built around one main character -- the canvas is more constricted -- but the interest is amazingly 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 frankly a selfish interest; she allowed him to bleed her consistently through the years, accepting his stories as fact, and never seeing him through all the long period of his education and early missionary experience. Then the family with which she is connected is broken -- and she seeks him out. The outcome, and its aftermath, provides the best part of the story, though the picture of joyous life on the big Austrian estate,before the Nazi betrayal, makes a delightful setting for the first third of the book. Don't be discouraged if it seems slow getting underway. It is worth it.

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