The Crooked Path / by Irma Joubert. 2.26.2019

Thomas Nelson ISBN 9780718098179

Adult     Rating: 3

The Crooked Path follows two converging life stories before, during, and after WWII.

Afrikaner Lettie Louw loved her best friend’s older brother for many years, but—even though he was nice to her—she “knew” that boys only fell in love with beautiful girls. After finding the boy she liked with her attractive best friend, Lettie turns her attention away from men and focuses on becoming doctor and inheriting her father’s practice.

Marco Romanelli, a Catholic Italian, fell in love with a Jewish woman at the beginning of WWII. Intending to avoid the German soldiers, she and Marco, along with her family, escaped the village and starved in the mountains—only to be kidnapped and taken away to the Jewish concentration camps years later. Losing his love and his health in the camps, Marco seeks out a warmer climate with his brother in South Africa to get back on his feet.

When Lettie becomes Marco’s doctor, she struggles with their professional-personal relationship. She must make her choice before Marco’s health deteriorates and she loses her chance at love.

By focusing on an overview of Marco and Lettie’s whole lives, The Crooked Path sacrifices depth and cohesiveness. With two introductions, plotlines, and conclusions, most of this novel’s pacing feels slow. The conclusions also feel unresolved and incomplete, as if there is more to the story. While the story seems to drag a little as the plot flips back and forth on one timeline, Irma Joubert’s writing is still beautifully engaging. It feels more like a literary, creative biography of these two characters instead of a fictional story. As readers follow these characters’ stories, they will catch a significant amount of historical, religious, and artistic details from WWII Europe and Africa that add even more realism to the story—appealing to historical and romantic fiction fans. 

Rebecca Schriner, CLJ