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Irma Voth

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  2,746 Ratings  ·  358 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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Aug 19, 2012 jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 21, 2012 Petra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-audio
At 19, Irma is ostracized and shunned from her family, living in isolation and despair. Her very strict Mennonite upbringing as a Canadian in Mexico leaves her dependent upon her father, who is the one who imposes the rejection and shunning. Her husband, leaves home for months on end, leaving Irma as alone as anyone can be on this planet: no home, no husband, no family, no friends, no community.
When disaster strikes, Irma knows she must leave, for her own safety. To save her younger sister, Irm
Steven Buechler
Jun 10, 2011 Steven Buechler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 10, 2017 Kirsty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: phd, february-2017
Irma Voth deals with similar themes to the fantastic A Complicated Kindness. Engaging from the beginning, it is an incredibly strong novel, filled with female characters you end up rooting strongly for. There is a darkness to it which hasn't been as prominent in Toews' other work, and there isn't the wry humour here which I have almost come to expect from her novels. Regardless, Irma Voth is incredibly though-provoking, and overarchingly rather sad.
Sep 26, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Petra, Mark
Originally published at Book Browse:

Author Miriam Toews has enjoyed modest success in her home country of Canada. Of Mennonite tradition 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
Aug 20, 2011 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
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
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
Oct 18, 2011 Dorothy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 06, 2011 Diane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Tamara Taylor
Jul 07, 2011 Tamara Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Jun 14, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 25, 2014 Eva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I initially didn't know what to think of this book- I will admit I wasn't automatically drawn in. I know nothing about Mennonites and, as the story progressed, found myself irritated with the presence of the hooligans and posers in the film crew and their related shenanigans. I guess it was the character of Irma, who simultaneously didn't believe in her abilities yet quietly refused to surrender to hopelessness, who kept me reading. When she reaches a point where she is willing to abandon the fa ...more
Megan Baxter
May 14, 2015 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Toews book I've read, and of the two I've read previously, I really loved A Complicated Kindness and liked A Boy of Good Breeding okay. So I had high hopes for Irma Voth, and I am more than happy with what I found. Like A Complicated Kindness, this one takes place within a Mennonite family. In this case, a Mennonite family that has relocated to Mexico from Canada.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can rea
Aug 20, 2011 kp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
May 18, 2017 Gregory rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Here is a prayer for Irma Voth's husband. Miriam Toews needed a foil to Irma Voth's innocence and sheltered life so Jorge will go down in fictional history as a questionably created Mexican character who is overly sexual, negligent, and a drug-trafficking Mexican. The stereotype used on Jorge bummed me out because all the other supporting cast in this novel are rock-solid and unique.


Questionable husband character aside, Miriam Toews can GOD DAMN WRITE and she broke one of the "Fiction 101"
Dec 28, 2012 Ebirdy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-book-group
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
Clif Hostetler
Nov 17, 2011 Clif Hostetler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
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 con
Lydia Bradburn-Smith
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

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
Oct 04, 2012 Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 20, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 08, 2011 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, first-reads
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,
Aug 04, 2011 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2011 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family, mexico
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
Sep 16, 2011 Dhali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read 2014: Sometimes I read a book at the wrong time - I'm too tired, too depressed, too busy, not in the right frame of mind, trying to rush through it, etc., to enjoy what I'm reading.

When I tried to read this in 2011 I didn't like it at all (see below the line for my comment then). Three years later I'm in an Irma-friendly place, in fact Irma is edging herself onto my list of favourite characters.

I still find Irma's situation sad, bordering on tragic but Irma herself is resilient, loving
May 09, 2011 Alexis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
Nov 27, 2011 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An engrossing tale about a young 19 year-old Mennonite woman living in Mexico who married young outside her faith and race and was basically disowned by her father. The story follows Irma and her 13-year old sister Aggie as they work with a film crew filming close to their home and strive for independence from their oppressive upbringing. Full of disturbing realizations effectively matched with heartwarming and life-affirming moments, Irma Voth is another excellent novel by Miriam Toews that wil ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Kalin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book surprised me. I began it a few months ago and struggled my way through the first half. Myriam Toews is a great writer, but I just couldn't get into the story. So, I put it down. This morning I felt drawn to it and within a couple hours I found myself disappointed that there were no more pages to read. It is a powerful story of loneliness, pain and heartbreak. It reveals the internal struggle between detesting family yet doing everything in our power to protect them. We read as the main ...more
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starting this book 1 25 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...

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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
“That to truly know happiness is to know the fleeting nature of everything, joy, pain, safety and happiness itself.” 3 likes
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