My Thoughts on Miriam Toews, Irma Voth

Title:Irma Voth
Author: Miriam Toews
Publisher: Harper
Date: 2011
Genre: Literary Fiction

255 pages.
Where I got it:The publisher, through Powell's Indiespensible
Challenges: None

Welcome to the TLC Tour for IRMA VOTH!

I was really excited to read this book.  The premise sounded quirky and unusual, which is right up my alley.  And the book certainly didn't disappoint in the realm of quirkiness.  Irma is a character unlike any other that I have read.  As a young Mennonite girl, growing up under the oppressive hand of her father, she chooses to rebel and marry a young Mexican man from the town where her family has settled -- Chihuahua.  Her husband, Jorge, is often away, and she continues to explore her rebellious streak during his absence by agreeing to help a film director who is in town to make a film about the Mennonite settlement in which she lives.  None of this rebelliousness pleases her father in the least, who still lives nearby, owns the house in which Irma lives, and keeps a stern watch on Irma and her sister Aggie (already rebelling quite a bit on her own). 

Toews prose is quirky, like her main character.  It is surprising, and often quite funny at unexpected moments.  Overall, there is an interesting balance between the silly and the serious all throughout the book that can be appealing, and can be disconcerting. It took me quite a few pages to adapt to Toews style, which might have been one of the reasons that the book was  slow starter for me.

The first portion of the book didn't work for me; however, the second half was a pleasure to read.  I don't want any spoilers here, but I will say that the book really began for me when the scene changed and I really started to feel like I knew Aggie and Irma, and wasn't distracted by all the small (actually, not always so small) dramas in the Mennonite community.  In the beginning I felt overwhelmed by characters and I felt relief when the cast changed. In fact, I feel that I might receive the beginning of the book differently now that I know Irma, if I were to go back and read it.  In the end, I found the read to be worthwhile, even though I wasn't certain that would be the case as I began.

For some other opinions, please check out the other stops on the tour:

Tuesday, September 6th: Reading on a Rainy Day Wednesday, September 7th: The Lost Entwife
Thursday, September 8th: Into the Hall of Books
Friday, September 9th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, September 13th: Stiletto Storytime
Wednesday, September 14th: Lit Endeavors
Thursday, September 15th: Broken Teepee
Friday, September 16th: Chick Lit Reviews .com
Tuesday, September 20th: StephTheBookworm
Wednesday, September 21st: Life is Short. Read Fast.
Thursday, September 22nd: Book Snob
Friday, September 23rd: The Betty and Book Chronicles
Monday, September 26th: Life in Review
Tuesday, September 27th: The Book Nest
Wednesday, September 28th: Nose in a Book
Thursday, September 29th: My Bookshelf
Friday, September 30th: In the Next Room


  1. I like the sound of this book, it seems very unusual.

  2. I know what you mean about sort of wanting to go back and read the beginning now that you know where the story was going - there have been a few books that I've felt that way about.

    I'm glad it turned out to be a worthwhile read by the time you got to the end. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  3. @Sam- It was unusual- not just in the plotting, but also in the writing itself.

    @heathertlc- Of course! Thanks for having me.


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