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Marion Andre

Oakville (Ont.), Mosaic Press, 1990. 156pp, paper, ISBN 0-88962-447-X (paper) $12.95, ISBN 0-88962-H7-8 (cloth) $24.95. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Anne Kelly.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

Maria B. examines the relationship between Stefan Lieberman, a Polish Jew, and Maria Brzezicka during World War II. Maria was a Polish woman who had lived free and easy before the war, who helped Jews like Stefan escape the Holocaust, and who committed the ultimate crime in war-torn Poland by falling in love with a German intelli­gence officer.

The story is told in the form of letters between Stefan and Roman Kohanski, director of the Jewish Relief Committee in Warsaw. These letters, written in 1970, become Stefan's diary. He pours out his memories, experiences and feelings, and he relives a past that is full of fear and friendship.

Andre does an excellent job of describing occupied Poland, the sights and sounds of Warsaw, the cruelties of Germans and Poles alike. The historical detail blends with Stefan's reminis­cences, Stefan's new life is also inte­grated into the plot, contrasting the confusion of the years in Poland with the security of life in Canada.

Unfortunately, the use of the letter device distances the reader from the actual events. While not doubting that Stefan is reliving both the pain and the comfort of his affair with Maria, the reader cannot share it. While under­standing why Stefan feels intimately and eternally involved with Maria, the reader does not experience the strength and passion of the relationship. Our experience is filtered through time and through Stefan's reflections.

Maria B. is more a character study than a novel. It is the study of one man's search for security amid hatred and confusion, and of the scars left by that search. It is a study of "survival, love, betrayal, remorse." Although it is not the "riveting read" promised on the back cover, it is well worth reading.

Anne Kelly, YMCA-YWCA of Dartmouth, Dartmouth, N.S.
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