Beatrice D. (Floral Park, New York)
Searching for Meaning in Different Worlds
Two characters from opposite sides of the world meet in a country that is frequently in the news, yet we know so little about the life of its people.
Aleksandr, a chess prodigy from a rural village in Russia finds himself first in Leningrad where he meets people who have an influence on his life and then in Moscow.
Irina, from Cambridge, Mass., has cut all ties with her American life and is now in Moscow seeking to meet Aleksandr because of a letter she found among her late father's papers. Both are searching for answers to the meanings of their very disparate lives.
The subsidiary characters (both real and fictional), as well as the events described during this period in Russia's history make for an engaging and provocative read.
Laurie H. (Stuart, FL)
Like a glass of fine red wine
Red wine and great books, these are a few of my favorite things!! I loved this book; it's nice to see that an author can have an original idea and follow it through with a great story. Like a glass of good wine, it's flavor unfolds slowly and you invest yourself in the characters; it does not disappoint. Curl up in your favorite chair and enjoy, I did.
Mary Ellen (Canfield, OH)
Not a lost cause
For a first novel from a young author, this is an amazing book. It is skillfully written in a clever style, interweaving the lives of its central characters looking for answers to life's difficult question.
The characters are more interesting than appealing. The story line proceeds through a political period (also pertinent today) in a compelling manner. It is a thought-provoking read.
Sarah H. (Arvada, CO)
A book worth quoting
It is rare that you find a book that combines both an engaging story and beautiful thought provoking prose. A Partial History of Lost Causes combines both, along with engaging characters and a universally accessible commentary that addresses the mundane, the cruel and the unexplainable parts of life. This is the kind of book that leaves me craving the next book from the author. And unlike some readers, I love having to go to the dictionary now and again during my reading. Having to do so every page becomes cumbersome, but a handful of well used words not in popular rotation restores the beauty of language that we have lost. I celebrate this book and it's author!
Eileen P. (Pittsford, NY)
DuBois has written a marvelous meditation on what gives life meaning, what makes life worth living, and what is it about ourselves that makes us the same person as we move through time. This is a deeply philosophical novel, but it is also a tremendously engaging novel with interesting characters and two compelling, intertwined plot-lines that beautifully illustrate the odd similarities between individual health challenges and politics in oppressive countries.
Karen H. (Auburn, MA)
Well written, story lacks something for me
I enjoyed the writing style and wanted to like this book more than I did. It was a little too slow moving for me. Usually that would not be an issue, as some books are more of a journey than others and I can appreciate that. I did have trouble getting "into" the portions that centered around Aleksandr. It took me until well halfway into the book to gain enough interest in the book to want to finish and find out what happens with Irina. I can tell that this author has the ability to weave an interesting story and to write intelligently but what I didn't love was was how the style had a touch of being almost forcibly descriptive. Everything seemed to have/require an obvious, uninteresting adjective or adverb ahead of it. It became tiresome and eventually irritated me. I did like the connection between her childhood with her father and the game of chess. I liked how chess was the thread that connected all the facets of the story. At the end of the day, it was an entertaining enough read that I would possibly recommend it to certain friends.
Amber B. (East Sparta, OH)
Intelligent & Thoughtful Debut!
As someone who has visited Eastern Europe several times, I was particularly interested in this story. While not particularly an "easy" read (it took me a little bit to get into it) - it was definitely worth it. Intelligent and intriguing, I hope to read more by Jennifer DuBois.