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Irma Voth

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  1,902 ratings  ·  300 reviews
"Thenicely drawn contrast between what Irma knows and suspects and what the readerunderstands about her world gives Irma Voth asuspenseful charge from the first pages.” —Jane Smiley, Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Ina rare coming-of-age novel that blends dark truths with upliftingtransformations, acclaimed author Miriam Toewsdelivers the story of a young Mennonite woman, vulnerab

Kindle Edition, 277 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2011)
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miriam toews is one of the best writers writing in english today. miriam toews is one of the best writers writing in english today. miriam toews is one of the best writing writing in english today. miriam toews is one of the best writers writing in english today. miriam toews is one of th ebest writerswritnnng in english today. miriam toews is one oft he best bwitnerwr writing in english today. miriam woetys is one of the bst writers wirting in english today. miriam toews is onweof the best bwri ...more
Steven Buechler
A must read for book lovers of either gender. Through the story we get into the mind set of a young woman dealing with serious issues and - as the book jacket says, "delves into the complicated factors that set us on the road to self-discovery and show us how we can sometimes find the strength to endure the really hard things that happen. It also asks the most difficult of questions: How do we forgive? And most importantly, how do we forgive ourselves?"

-from page 21
"I stood in my yard and notiec
Jennifer D
Dec 06, 2011 Jennifer D rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Petra, Mark
Author Miriam Toews has enjoyed modest success in her home country of Canada. Of Mennonite tradition (see sidebar) and hailing from rural Manitoba, many of Toews's novels explore this way of life. She won the 2004 Governor General's Award for Fiction for A Complicated Kindness, and she was awarded the 2008 Writer's Trust Fiction Prize for her novel, The Flying Troutmans. All this to say, Toews has writerly chops.

Irma Voth came about when, in 2006, she was approached to star in a film by Mexican
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
Mennonite Irma Voth had been kicked out of her home by her father when she fell in love with and married a Mexican man named Jorge. Her father arranged for them to stay in a nearby house, but Jorge was to work for him for free. A year later though, Jorge is tired of Irma and the whole arrangement and leaves. Around the same time, a film crew moves into another house nearby to shoot a movie about Mennonites. Irma's father isn't happy about it, and is especially angry when Irma herself chooses to ...more
I really wanted to like this one. I truly did. The description of this novel, by new-to-me author Miriam Toews, sounded so different than anything else I'd read and seemed very intriguing.

Irma Voth is 19, married, and living in a Mennonite community in Mexico. With the exception of her younger sister, Irma is pretty much estranged from her family. A filmmaker arrives in town to make a documentary and hires Irma as a translator. Irma befriends Marijke, an actress in the film and ...well, that wou
Tamara Taylor
Toews is a literary genius who writes with such a masterly command of the English language. A wizard of words! Her characters are always so complex and vivid despite her minimalist approach to writing. I found this story disturbing and quite sad, but she still managed to infuse it with her signature dark humour. Not my fave Toews book but it was a quick read and I would recommend. My fave line was the one about the protagonist sleeping in the barn like Jesus without the entourage or pressure to ...more
I had been disappointed with Miriam Toews most recent book (The Flying Troutmans) so I embarked on this read with lowered expectations and was delighted to find that the author is back on form. I was completely captivated by the character of Irma Voth. Toews has returned to what she writes about best...the effects of living in a family dominated by a bigoted and powerful father. In this case, she sets her action in a Mennonite community in Mexico and weaves into the story a group of filmmakers a ...more
Toews is adept at quiet irony and at mapping the travels we make inside our own hearts, especially as we move toward a truer understanding of other people, and this novel displays those skills in even greater measure. I find her protagonists authentic and moving, and their struggles to manage the need for connection with the knowledge that it often fails or can only be won after great forebearance rings true to me. This novel offers us an engaging central figure and demonstrates Toews' ability t ...more
Raised in Canada, Irma Voth followed along placidly when her father packed the family up and moved to northern Mexico. After all, father was the leader and no one questioned his ways. If you were a boy in the Voth family, work was hard and watching the way father treated your sisters was harder. For some reason, Mr. Voth didn’t like women. His two daughters, Irma and Aggie could do nothing to please him.
Which is probably why, when she snuck off to the rodeo, Irma fell for the first boy who was n
I enjoyed this tale of a young Mennonite girl marooned on a claustrophobic family compound in rural Mexico. At 19 she has already been through a lot, marrying a non-Mennonite Mexican guy called Jorge and getting ostracised by her family as a result, then being abandoned by Jorge. That’s before the novel even begins. As it progresses, she gets involved with a film crew who have rented the neighbouring house to shoot a movie, steals and sells drugs, and runs away to Mexico City with her younger si ...more
Set in a rural Mennonite community in contemporary Mexico, this latest book from Canadian author Miriam Toews is a poignant and dryly humorous coming of age story. I’ve enjoyed all of Miriam Toews novels and while this isn’t my favorite—that would be either The Flying Troutmans, which is funnier, or A Complicated Kindness, which deals more directly with the difficulties facing a teenage Mennonite—Irma Voth did keep me engaged enough that I read the entire book in 24 hours.

Nineteen-year-old Irma
This story was not quite as emotionally involving as I thought it might be. The story is simple enough, but there are gaps in it. The gaps mainly have to do with the characters. This girl has a rough relationship with her father, though he barely talks to her so we don't really get to know why it's so rough, at least not until nearly the end of the novel. She's married, to a man who doesn't really love her. And, who it seems, she doesn't love much either. (My thought of course, is why get marrie ...more

When Irma Voth decided to marry someone who wasn't a Mennonite, her father's strange faith in a ruthless God required him to shut her out of his life. Having spent her early years in Canada, Irma has lived in Mexico since she was a teen and her life as a very young wife is harsh and unpredictable. She knows her husband Jorje is probably doing something illegal but he keeps going away and she really wants him to stay, so she doesn't push it. During one of Jorje's long absences, nineteen-year-old
I'm on a Miriam Toews kick right now. And wow. This book is the best yet. I hesitated a little in the first pages, realizing there were Mennonites involved (I'm not really interested in that aspect of Toews' oeuvre), but before long I was carrying the book everywhere I went, impatient to get back there, to Irma and Aggie, to the darkness and heat of the desert, and most of all to Toews' narrative voice. I don't know any other writer who makes me feel I am hanging out with a friend, a wise friend ...more
Clif Hostetler
To fully appreciate this book I recommend the reader first see this movie . The author played the role of the mother of the family in this movie. It is obvious that she has used her experience acting in this movie as the setting in which to place the first half of the story of this book. But this is a novel so there's no reason to consider this story anything other than Toews' imagination. (I have the DVD of the movie that I'm willing to loan out.)

The beginning of the book is set in a rural cons
This is a very strange book for me. I didn't really like the middle which dragged on and on and when I finally made it to the end, it was like a different person was writing. This book is like an old mattress with a big sag in the middle.

The main character, Irma moved with her family from Canada and continued to live as Mennonites in Mexico. Her father was unbearable, going into rages and rants easily and beating his daughters very hard. Her mother,
did not know how to get out of this situation,
Miriam Toews' (pronounced "Taves", please) earlier books had a charming quirky humor to lighten the story but not this one. I think she intended the younger adolescent sister Aggie to provide some comic relief but she only screws things up. If you thought Toews portrayed a dour Mennonite existence before you ain't seen nothin' yet. Irma Voth is a nineteen year-old Mennonite girl transplanted from rural Manitoba to rural northern Mexico. Apparently, some ultra-conservative Mennonites started relo ...more
This book was good but I didn't think it was great. Partly this is because Toews used an unconventional punctuation style (no quotes to delineate conversation) so initially it was hard to determine what was narrative and what was dialogue. This did get easier though as you went on and got accustomed to it. The other reason is I just couldn't find much sympathy for any of the characters. Everyone seemed very exaggerated, either good or evil, artistic or stupid, and no one seemed very real to me. ...more
For 19-year-old Irma Voth life is somewhat confusing. She has only been married a short while and she isn’t really sure how she can learn to become a better wife, without her husband around, or what exactly it is that makes her questions so annoying. Forced to remain close to a family who have publicly distanced themselves from her, under her father’s instruction, Irma exists on the outside of an insular Mennonite community, in rural Mexico. With only the cows and very occasionally her head-stro ...more
More people should read this novel about a young woman, Irma, and the complications of her life as a Mennonite in exile in Mexico. She's constrained by her father and then a husband, but when a film crew arrives in the village to make a crazy avant garde movie, her involvement in the filming changes her life. It is simply written, yet full of emotion and intellect. Recommended. I will be reading more Miriam Toews.
This book is one that really requires you to pay attention and think. The story unravels slowly and the author doesn't give you all the information at once.

The title character of the story is the narrator, Irma Voth, who is a 19-year-old Mennonite girl living in a Mennonite community in the Mexican desert. She is being shunned by her family as she married a Mexican guy when she was 18.

Her life changes when a film crew comes into the desert. She also visits with her sister and interacts with the
Scathing scenes of movie director hubris are always welcome. But in this case the director in question is a not-very-thinly-veiled-at-all Carlos Reygadas, and the film shoot that provides the backbone of this novel's plot is Silent Light, and I found myself irrationally angry at Miriam Toews for daring to offer an unflattering perspective on a movie I dearly loved. I am not particularly proud of this reaction, but there it is.
Ruth Seeley
Nice to see Toews breaking new ground with this one, in which her characters deal with some very adult subject matter. Not so sure how successful her treatment of these big themes of dealing with the consequences of one's actions is though - and perhaps there are just too many of them to be dealt with in a single novel. The list at the end of tragic events Irma's set in motion would have anyone in therapy, I think, not merely soldiering on as surrogate mother of her two little sisters. Will be i ...more
This is a coming-of-age-in-a-dysfunctional-family story, a genre I generally avoid. I was intrigued, though, by the setting in a Mennonite community in Mexico, something I knew a little about & was curious to know more about. Alas, this is such an intimate story that we don't learn much about life in that community. It's a very sad story, told in a distinctive voice, with the threat of violence always hanging in the background, but redeemed by a number of occasions of the kindness of strange ...more
I still think "A Complicated Kindness" is Toews best novel,so far, but Irma Voth was certainly better than I expected. Irma is hired to help as a translator on a movie set. Like many of Toews character, Irma, a Mennonite girl in Mexico, is a part of a dysfunctional family and is married to a husband who is always some where else. She seems to be quite able to take care of herself, and probably learned that from necessity. Her father is very distant from her and her sisters because he wanted sons ...more
Toews is one of the funniest writers around and she is criminally under-appreciated outside of Canada. This book, however, felt like it was about 100 pages too thin - more sketched than written. While Irma (and her two sisters) are fully realized the rest of the characters never quite spring to life. There are some great scenes and set pieces, some fantastic pieces of dialogue, but the book never quite comes together.
I love Miriam Toews but this one just didn't work for me. The last 50 or so pages were good, but it was work to get there. I am looking forward to All My Puny Sorrows.
This is an odd book. Its written in the first person and is told in conversation throughout by the main character. There are no quotation marks at all which is odd too. I felt compelled to finish it but not particularly because I was enjoying it but because it was odd and I wanted to find out the end. I haven't read anything by the author before and I'm not sure if I will read her again.
Weeell... I am a Miriam Toews fan. And I kept doggedly reading this book, not put off by the jagged rhythms of it, or of the extreme obtuse naiveness, or what reviewers are touting as dry humour worldliness, of Irma. But when the ending happened I had a WTF moment and thought, man, why ruin a book in this way? This is not helpful.

I was flummoxed. I still am.
Carrie Marcotte
This would make a great book club book. There are many aspects of this book I will have to think about and I might come back and change the rating because of that. I would have given this book a 3 1/2 star rating. I think the only thing that kept it away from four stars was the middle part of the novel dragged a bit. Interesting, very original plot.
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starting this book 1 21 Sep 30, 2011 09:23PM  
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Miriam Toews is a Canadian writer of Mennonite descent. She grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba and has lived in Montreal and London, before settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Toews studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of King's College in Halifax, and has also worked as a freelance newspaper and radio journalist. Her non-fiction book "Swing Low: A Life" was a memoir of her father, a vi
More about Miriam Toews...
A Complicated Kindness The Flying Troutmans All My Puny Sorrows Summer of My Amazing Luck A Boy of Good Breeding

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“Do you feel that we can rebel against our oppressors without losing our love, our tolerance, and our ability to forgive?” 4 likes
“Mennonites formed themselves in Holland five hundred years ago after a man named Menno Simons became so moved by hearing Anabaptist prisoners singing hymns before being executed by the Spanish Inquisition that he joined their cause and became their leader. Then they started to move all around the world in colonies looking for freedom and isolation and peace and opportunities to sell cheese. Different countries give us shelter if we agree to stay out of trouble and help with the economy by farming in obscurity. We live like ghosts. Then, sometimes, those countries decide they want us to be real citizens after all and start to force us to do things like join the army or pay taxes or respect laws and then we pack our stuff up in the middle of the night and move to another country where we can live purely but somewhat out of context.” 2 likes
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