Carole C. (Conyers, GA)
An Assault on the Senses
Valeria has remained a single woman all her life, in a small village with no secrets. Yet somehow, late in midlife she is struck while at the market one day by Cupid in the form of a widower, the local potter.
He is a wonder with his hands and has the heart of an artist. He awakens her sensuality. She inspires him to create art rather than function as the local potter. It is a difficult match, with a competing love interest for each of them in the form of a "lucky" chimney sweep and the local lady tavern owner.
The action and local intrigue are lively and propel the reader forward to see what will become of the characters, of different life stages, different ambitions and unrequited loves.
It is a good read that harkens back to not so long ago when one could still imagine a peaceful village, populated with folk with their minds on their work, on love and a bit of passion.
The notion of a woman of standards and who values hard work as a muse is a welcome addition to my literary imagination. Thank you Marc Fitten!
Gunta K. (Whitehall, NY)
Disjointed Romance Novel
The novel Valeria's Last Stand, takes place in the small country village of Zivatar, Hungary. Predominantly the story twirls around two women Valeria and Ibolya. The latter owns a bar in same village. The women are not friends, they are competitors for much of the length of the story for the traveling chimney sweep. The action depicted is mostly among the over sixty crowd. I do not recommend this book because it is disjointed, not a flowing work, not positive. Has no redeeming characters or moments. Worst of all, describes the women as some slovenly beings unable to keep their men home, away from the bar and its owner. Given the fact that half the action takes place in the open market, nothing is said about how and who is working the fields to produce all the food sold in this market. That would have been the positive. The numerous references to sex, on behalf of the women mostly , are quite vulgar. Lots of corruption on behalf of the village officials. One gets the impression that all this takes place in the fifteenth century and not during the time of great changes in all of Europe a little more than a decade ago. When democracy and freedom was on the mind of all of Europe. I did not like this book and do not recommend it.
Kat F. (Palatine, IL)
Oddly complex and entertaining
I started out not really liking this book, though I could empathize with the curmudgeon Valeria and found myself admiring her, even cheering her on on occasion. Surprisingly, the more I read, the more I identified with some characteristics in each of the main players. So, while I didn't necessarily like them, I could understand them and their motives.
It was an entertaining first novel, struggling to find a pace and get some steam going at the start till about halfway through. But once it found it's momentum - it held me till the end.
Julie (Minnetonka MN)
Adult fairytale for seniors
Valeria's Last Stand is set in Hungary at the end of Socialism. The characters are mostly senior citizens adjusting to the social and political changes happening around them. I loved that it showed seniors striving for the same things young people want: passion, love, sex, hope and inspiration. I would recommend it to those who enjoyed books like Chocolat by Joanna Harris and Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.
Mary (St Paul MN)
Valerie's Last Stand
I enjoyed this book very much. It was especially fun to have main characters be strong, colorful, and over sixty! Some of the events in the story become a little bizarre, but it all seems to fit together. The jacket of the book talks about this story being a fairy tale, so I knew it would be fanciful. The people and the setting - a small Hungarian village make for a wonderful story with lots of action, warmth and humor. I look forward to Marc Fitten's next book.
Helen (Petaluma CA)
A Very Sharp Eye
Marc Fitten has indeed a very sharp eye. He tells his story, which is about a very small village in Hungary with amazing, colorful, precise vision. This story is mostly about senior citizens of which I am one. Marc describes us perfectly. It is about the everyday life in this village .... people's hopes and dreams, fears and joys. Like all good tales, it can be taken far beyond this village. Valeria is honest .. she has nothing to lose ... she goes for it. All artists will love the potter and know his needs.The journey is wild, robust and heartwarming. I recommend it for all, but the over 60 set will smile the widest.
Carolyn (Summerville SC)
Valeria's Last Stand
I'm afraid that I cannot get very enthusiastic over this book. Valeria is an interesting character, but not enough of the story includes her. People talk about her, but we don't get to know her that well. The potter is a good man, but his indecisiveness leads to big problems. Most of the characters are not very nice people. Why do the village women throw themselves at the revolting chimney sweep? The tavern owner, as well as the mayor, seem to have nothing but contempt for the townspeople. Everyone uses foul language, including the children. I wouldn't want to revisit this place.