A Long, Long Time Ago
And Essentially True
is a novel about
love, loss, and sacrifice. The book tells the stories of two generations of the
Mrozek family, with chapters alternating between the grandparents' experience
during WWII and the years immediately thereafter, and their granddaughter's life
in mid-1990s Krakow. First-time author Brigid Pasulka skillfully compares and
contrasts life in Poland during these two very different eras in the nation's
history, painting a vivid image of both its past and its present.
The episodes that concern Pigeon and Anielica ("Angel") have an
almost fairy-tale feel to them, in spite of the increasingly serious subject
matter. The time frame feels distant and slightly unreal, with Pigeon in
particular being a larger-than-life figure, always in control and capable of
overcoming any obstacle. The narrator of...
Beyond the Book
In A Long, Long Time Ago
And Essentially True,
one of the
main characters, Beata, is constantly referred to by the nickname "Baba Yaga."
Baba Yaga is a popular figure in Slavic folk tales
language map). Also known as the "Old Woman
of Autumn," her origins can be traced back to the ancient Slavic goddesses of birth
and death. The derivation of her name is not clear: "baba," is an abbreviated form
of the word "babushka," the Slavic term for an old woman or grandmother;
but the origins of
"Yaga," are more muddy - possibly it is a corruption of
"yagat" (to abuse or find fault), possibly it is from a Proto-Slavic
word meaning lazybones, or it could simply be a diminutive of the Slavic name
Jadwiga (a Polish variation...