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Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Well Read Woman by Kate Stewart (a biography of Ruth Rappaport)

A fascinating biography of a woman with a colorful history and one with ambition.

Ruth Rappaport was a child in Nazi Germany. With Romanian origin parents and a passport which helped  since it was not a German one, she was a Jew and faced great danger in Nazi Germany. She was fearless and even as a young child was daring and bold. Faced with an uncertain future, she like thousands of others was shipped to Seattle to join a family and to try to live a life without the luxury of parents or family or money.

How Ruth survived the treacherous journeys through Switzerland then to America to Vietnam and back to America all sustained by her love of libraries and books and how she used this to her advantage to seek a life of some sorts despite being without roots, without a home, without a family is an emotional read. For anyone to be not really welcomed, to be just tolerated by family  more as an obligation or duty to extended family is a hardship that cannot be endured for long. Ruth had to bear this for a long time because with no money, no education she was dependant on others.

How she carved a life for herself out of her libraries, the work she did in Vietnam setting up a fine system for all the forces stationed there was immense. Even on her return her work with libraries continued and even in retirement she was an active force within the community itself. It makes one life seem very dull and mediocre in comparison!

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Little A.