Crackpot

by Adele Wiseman | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0771098510 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingCJL-230711wing on 3/16/2007
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingCJL-230711wing on Friday, March 16, 2007
At our last bookclub meeting our hostess had set out a table of books that she wanted to dispose of. Could I resist...Of course not!

This is one of the books I picked up.

I have only read essays by Adele Wiseman before, but I enjoyed those, so I'm looking forward to this. She is a Canadian author, was in fact from Winnipeg, so if I read it in time I will release for the Canada Day Release Challenge.



Cover not as shown.

Journal Entry 2 by wingCJL-230711wing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Saturday, November 13, 2010
This is the disturbing and tragic story of Hoda, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants. Hoda is a much-loved child and she grows up listening to family stories proudly told by her blind father Danile, who naively believes in his good luck in spite of poverty and misfortune. Danile and his slightly hunchbacked wife Rahel were married in a graveyard during a cholera epidemic in the old country. It appeared that the Jews were not quite as susceptible to the disease as gentiles and as the epidemic continued the threat of a pogrom frightened the Jewish community. An old belief held that the marriage of the community’s poorest, least able members in a cemetery would end the epidemic. Danile and Rahel were chosen. In return, the community would provide a dowry, a mud hut, and look after them. But as time went on people forgot the epidemic and their responsibility for the couple. Eventually they were sponsored to immigrate to Canada by an uncle in Winnipeg who was unaware of Danile’s blindness and saw them only as a financial burden once they arrived. They found a hovel in the north end of the city and Rahel went out to clean the houses of middleclass Jews. Because of Danile’s blindness she had to take Hoda along and constantly fed her to keep the child quiet. If life wasn’t already hard enough for this family, Rahel began to feel the growth of an abdominal tumour but did not take it seriously enough and postponed the surgery until it was too late. After her death, Danile’s prosperous uncle, harbouring dreams of becoming a community philanthropist, promised generous donations to the Jewish Orphanage and to the old folk’s home, thinking that he would be able to place his unwanted and dependent relatives there. He was stunned and furious by Danile and Hoda’s refusal to be separated and washed his hands of them. Danile had recently learned to weave baskets, and the two scraped by on the sale of these and with scraps that Hoda was given by the butcher in return for sexual favours. Hoda did not recognize until years later that her innocence had been abused. At school she was an outcast due to her obesity, her poverty, and lack of cleanliness. Soon she was to turn to the adolescent boys for acceptance, for love, and ultimately for money, becoming a prostitute. And yet she still optimistically believed that better days would come. When the cold weather came she brought the boys to her home telling Danile that she was tutoring them. He, either naively or willfully blind, seemed to accept this story and would retire to his room so as not to disturb them. Ignorant and with no one to talk to about women’s concerns, Hoda did not believe that she could become pregnant and thought she was becoming ill like her mother when she began to feel changes in her body. Wiseman’s writing vividly describes the terrifying experience of giving birth, at night, alone, and completely ignorant, Hoda screaming soundlessly to avoid disturbing and frightening her father. The realization of what had happened propelled her to action, cleaning up all traces, and walking in the middle of the night to the orphanage where she abandoned her son on the porch. The note she left with him would cause much speculation in the community as to his origins. Afterwards, Hoda carried on with her prostitution but learned to protect herself. She would also take cleaning jobs when they were available. She and Danile carried on as before, but Hoda now carried a sadness within her. Years later, Hoda met her adolescent son and this was truly tragic. Wiseman has created a character that one can’t help but feel deeply for, and yet feeling sorry for her one can’t help but admire the earthy Hoda’s resourcefulness, her optimism, her courage and her love. I’m surprised that this well-written novel with its strong characterisation and portrayal of Winnipeg's north end through the period of the World Wars and the Winnipeg General Strike isn’t better known. Wiseman was a contemporary and good friend of Margaret Laurence.

Journal Entry 3 by wingCJL-230711wing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, November 26, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (11/25/2010 UTC) at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Mailed yesterday to Ibis3 for her CanLit Challenge. Shouldn't take to long to get there - it was small enough to go by regular mail. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 4 by Ibis3 at Newcastle, Ontario Canada on Monday, December 06, 2010
It arrived! Thanks, Mrs. G! It's going on Mt. Toobie directly.

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