Hi Everyone! I have an interesting read for you today…
Although A Very Capable Life is written by her son, the story maintains an autobiography feel as it is told from the first-person perspective of Zarah Petri. It is a warming story which leaves the reader feeling very involved throughout, as though you might be having tea or coffee with Zarah.
The story is an account of the very inspiring life of a women who was born in the early twentieth century. Living through a world war, the Great Depression, and even Alzheimer’s, Zarah manages to navigate her way through adversity time and time again, convincing the reader that she did in fact live a very capable life.
I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. I loved Zarah’s memories from the old country (at that time, Hungary). The tale of her early family life and immigration to Canada is fascinating; it presents an interesting dynamic to the story and culture of Canada which, while not necessarily unique to Eastern and Central European immigrants, is certainly overlooked. The measures Zarah takes to enable the survival of her family during desperate times is inspiring, and certainly reminds me of the value of hard work and determination.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find myself enjoying the latter part of the book. Shifting from a recount of her life, the story seems to become an account of her struggle with Alzheimer’s. And it seems to me that this section receives greater attention than other, more fascinating aspects of Zarah’s life. Of course, this may be because the author is more familiar with these years. I appreciate the addition of the often private experience of dealing with a debilitating syndrome like Alzheimer’s, I just wish it was somewhat condensed or shortened. Although the book ended on a positive note, the shadow cast by Zarah’s confusion really prohibited the reader finishing with any happy feelings. At least, that’s how I felt.
So, to conclude, I think that the autobiography gives a really interesting account of a diverse life. I would recommend it to anyone interested in immigration accounts of people coming to the new world, or anyone interested in reading about the life of a woman whose deeds, while not famous, are remarkable and provide a welcome relief from the celebrity obsessed memoirs we’re usually subjected to (I read Victoria Beckham’s Learning To Fly- NEVER AGAIN!). I also think that in fact any citizen of the Great North should read it as it’s a book about Canada, in a sense. But just be prepared for the existential/fear-of-turning-old crisis that you’ll likely face at the end. I recommend chocolate.
What type of memoirs/biographies do you like to read? I’ve always enjoyed accounts of immigration!