Full of action and definitely captivating, A Cobbler's Tale by Neil Perry Gordon chronicles the journey of one Jewish family fleeing from war in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire to settle in the US.
It is the early 1900s and the Jews in the village of Krzywcza know that things are about to get worse and many are leaving their homes to settle in the US where they can escape persecution and provide better lives for their families. Pincus Potasznik is one such man but he is unsure his wife Clara will agree to his departure. He convinces her and soon he is on a ship headed to America. He meets Jakob on the voyage and they forge a long lasting friendship. Unlike Pincus, Jakob is fleeing from his past deeds and intends to start a new life when they arrive. While having to work full time to establish his shoe-making business and Jakob getting involved with gangs, Pincus has his hands full. Worse still, World War I is about to begin and Pincus might not be able to go back for his family.
I loved that the plot does not run out of action scenes and many are emotionally gripping. The book is quite fascinating as every turn consists of a riveting scene. In the first part of the book, the unfair treatment that the Jews receive from the authorities is quite evident and even after the Potaszniks leave their homeland and start their life in America, challenges follow them there. Jakob’s involvement with ruthless gangs makes the book even more fascinating as surprises occur.
The fact that it is loosely based on real events makes it feel more authentic. Neil Perry Gordon bases the story on his great-grandparents’ immigration experiences. Even though the plot has been changed to create room for more action, it still reflects the challenges that many Jewish families faced even before the start of WWI in the Austro-Hungarian region.
The characters are not perfect and each of them does what is required for them to survive which makes them relatable and appear real. Clara is daring and she is willing to do whatever it takes to save her family. She takes on the responsibility of leading her family when her husband is away and she does so remarkably. Pincus is ambitious and wants to provide his family with the best life that he can offer. Despite his shy personality, he risks his life many times to protect those that he loves. Jakob, on the other hand, values friendship even if he is caught up in illegal activities.
The editing of the book is well done and the plot is fascinating. A Cobbler's Tale by Neil Perry Gordon would appeal to readers who appreciate action-packed stories that contain the themes of immigration, survival and war. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars.