The Travels of Daniel Ascher By Deborah Levy-Bertherat.
Other Press| May 2015| 182 pages | $22.95| ISBN: 978-1-59051-707-9
Touching, creative, lovely novel. It tells the story of a child of the Holocaust in a unique manner. There’s a story within a story. French author Deborah Levy-Bertherat provides splendid descriptions of present day Paris as well as Paris during the Nazi occupation. It’s a wonderful translation by Adriana Hunter. The Travels of Daniel Ascher proves to be mysterious, adventurous and moving.
Archaeology student Helene Roche never paid much mind to her eccentric uncle Daniel, the author of a popular series of adventure novels in the vein of Treasure Island with a rapid following like Game of Thrones or Harry Potter. She arrives in Paris to study—living in a flat in Daniel’s building– and begins dating Guillaume, a serious fan of her great uncle’s novels and his heroic protagonist Peter. “In the most perilous episodes in every book, the insignia reminded Peter he’d brushed with death and it had saved him, and it would give him the strength to continue his battle against the adversities and injustices of this world.”
To create novels within a novel demands immense creativity for which Levy-Bertherat possesses plenty. Helene soon decides she needs to learn about the real Daniel not just the swashbuckling traveler who regales the children at holidays with his outlandish tales. Helene never knew that Daniel was adopted and one of the orphans of the Holocaust that her family took in during WWII. As she begins to investigate and discuss Daniel with her aunts she uncovers the truth. She travels to New York to meet his biological aunt. She then speaks with Daniel to discover that while he’s Daniel Roche he’s also Daniel Ascher too. He’s split between two worlds. Saved from great atrocities he lost his parents and sister to the Holocaust. Helene grows closer to her uncle and appreciates him much more.
It’s a delightfully-written exquisite novel.
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Other Press.