Friday, 26 June 2015

Songs for the Butcher's Daughter by Peter Manseau

Itsik Malpesh was born the son of a goose-plucking factory manager during the Russian pogroms; his life saved on the very night it began by the young daughter of a kosher slaughterer. Or so he believes .....

Exiled during the war, Itsik eventually finds himself in New York, working as a typesetter and writing poetry to his muse, the butcher's daughter, whom he is sure he will never see again. But it is here in New York that Itsik is unexpectedly reunited with his greatest love - and, later, his greatest enemy - with results both serendipitous and tragic.

Itsik's story is recounted in his memoirs that to the most unlikely of translators - a twenty-one-year-old Boston college student who, in meeting Itsik, has embarked upon a lie that will define his future and the most extraordinary friendship he'll ever know.

Spanning decades and continents, this book is an immigrant's epic saga filled with adventure, humour, retribution and romance; a love letter to Jewish history that almost inadvertently tells a tale of the entire 20th century. Stories this passionate, surprising and enthralling are both hard to find and hard to forget.

I enjoyed this book very much. It has a dual narration. Each chapter begins with the translator telling his story followed by a portion of Itsik's memoirs. I enjoyed reading the translators story every bit as much as the memoir.

Without doubt Mr. Manseau is a good storyteller and I was very caught up in both the stories being told. My only criticism of this book is that at one point I felt coincidence went a little too far. However, it did  not detract from my enjoyment of the book as it is well written, the characters are engaging and the way in which the two stories come together was excellent

This is a good read for those who like reading about books, for those who are interested in history and for those who like a little romance in their reading.

ISBN:  978 1847393388

Publisher: Pocket Books

Price (based on today's price at £7.99

About the Author:  Peter Manseau has been a carpenter, journalist and typesetter in his time, and is the author of two works of non-fiction, including the memoir Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun and their Son. He is 34 and lives with his wife and two children in Washington. Songs for the Butcher's Daughter is his first novel.