On the eve of World War II, in a place called Half-Village, a young man nicknamed the Pigeon falls in love with a girl fabled for her angelic looks. To court Anielica Hetmanská he offers up his "golden hands" to transform her familys modest hut into a beautiful home, thereby building his way into her heart.
Then war arrives to cut short their courtship, delay their marriage, and wreak havoc in all their lives, even sending the young lovers far from home to the promise of a new life in Kraków.
Nearly fifty years later, their granddaughter, Beata, repeats their postwar journey, seeking a new life in the fairy-tale city of her grandmothers stories. But when she arrives in Kraków, instead of the whispered prosperity of the New Poland, she discovers a city caught between its future and its past, and full of frustrated youths. Taken in by her toughtalking cousin Irena and Irenas glamorous daughter Magda, Beata struggles to find her own place in 1990s Kraków and in the constellation of Irena and Magdas fierce love. But unexpected events-- tragedies and miracles-- can change lives and open eyes. And Beata may just find a new way of seeing her family's and her country's history-- as well as a vision for her own role in the New Poland.
Whimsical, wise, beautiful, magical, and sometimes even heartbreaking, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True weaves together two remarkable stories, reimagining half a century of Polish history through the legacy of one unforgettable love affair.
A Long, Long Time Ago… And Essentially True packs a huge emotional punch, particularly toward the end as the two story lines converge. Pasulka shows her skill in these delicate sections with narrative that is touching without being melodramatic.
This is a novel that will likely appeal to a wide range of readers; and those who enjoy historical fiction, have a particular interest in Poland, or who simply take pleasure in top-notch writing will certainly want to put it high on their reading list. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
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 of the German name Hedwig).
A powerful witch, she's generally depicted as a hideous crone,
with a long, warty nose, dirty, stringy hair, and steel teeth that...
Mining a lost piece of history, Sara Young takes us deep into the lives of
women living in the worst of times. Part love story and part elegy for the
terrible choices we must often make to survive, My Enemy's
Cradle keens for what we lose in war and sings for the hope we sometimes
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