Pavel and Anneliese Bauer are affluent, secular Jews, whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of the German forces in Czechoslovakia. Desperate to avoid deportation, the Bauers flee to Prague with their six-year-old son, Pepik, and his beloved nanny, Marta. When the family try to flee without her to Paris, Marta betrays them to her Nazi boyfriend. But it is through Marta’s determination that Pepik secures a place on a Kindertransport, though he never sees his parents or Marta again.
Inspired by Alison Pick’s own grandparents who fled their native Czechoslovakia for Canada during the Second World War, Far To Go is a deeply personal and emotionally harrowing novel.
Reading Group Questions
1. Far To Go is the story of a Jewish family but a large proportion of the novel focuses on the thoughts and feelings of Marta, their non-Jewish nanny. What effect does this have?
2. “Hitler might be a bullying schoolboy. Or, he might be the man of the century” Does the novel suggest Hitler’s supporters were ignorant, evil, or misguided?
3. Which character do you empathise with most in this novel and why?
4. Betrayal is an important theme in the book. Is Marta’s betrayal understandable or unforgiveable?
5. Do you think Anneliese is a bad mother? If so, does she redeem herself in the novel?
6. What does the novel say about family? Is blood always thicker than water?
7. “The occupation would be short-lived, she told herself” How does it feel to experience the approach of war from the perspective of somebody who does not know what the future holds? Do you think optimism is a helpful emotion in times of crisis or does hoping for the best actually make things worse for the Bauer family?
8. Were you surprised by the ending? Did it influence your perspective on the novel as a whole?
Schindler’s List, by Thomas Keneally
The Pianist, by Wladyslaw Szpilman
The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
Kindertransport, by Diane Samuels
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne