Valeria's Last Stand: Book summary and reviews of Valeria's Last Stand by Marc Fitten

Valeria's Last Stand

by Marc Fitten

Valeria's Last Stand
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2009
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

A comic romp celebrating late-flowering love in a Hungarian village that will appeal to readers of Absurdistan, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.

Valeria is a whale in a puddle. She harrumphs her daily way through her backwater Hungarian village, finding equal fault with the new, the old, the foreign, and the familiar. Her decades of universal contempt have turned her into a touchstone of her little community—whatever she scorns the least must be the best, after all. But, on a day like any other, her spinster's heart is struck by an unlikely arrow: the village potter, long known and little noticed, captures her fancy, and Valeria finds herself suddenly cast in a role she never expected to play. This one deviation from character, this one loose thread, is all it takes for the delicately woven fabric of village life to unravel. And, for the first time in a long time, Valeria couldn’t care less. With humor and sensitivity, author Marc Fitten delivers an unexpected and entirely inspiring first novel that will leave you begging for more.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Fitten is not always successful in balancing character development with the larger themes of power and progress, but the irascible Valeria makes such a unique heroine that readers may be willing to overlook the story's less fluid elements." - Publishers Weekly

"Enjoyable and poignant, this work is recommended." - Library Journal

"Fitten populates his fairy tale of a novel with bitter-coated sugarplums of characters; they will definitely win a place in your heart, even as they’d never stoop to asking for one. In a Hungarian village so small as to be nearly outside of history—the Germans, the Soviets, the capitalists, no one bothers to stop in this hamlet—these sprites still manage to cheat, love, hate, drink, and make pottery for one another with a level of passion we’re more accustomed to associating with the very engines of expanding or decaying empires. A beautiful debut." - Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

"A thoughtful, skillfully drawn portrait of one woman, one village, and one country." - Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook

"Marc Fitten’s excellent new novel has much to recommend it—wisdom, warmth, humor—but it is his creation of the title character herself that is his and the novel’s most remarkable achievement. Valeria is every bit as sensual and irrepressible as Chaucer's Wife of Bath, and she will linger in any reader’s mind long after the last page is turned." - Ron Rash, author of Serena

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Reader Reviews

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Dory Dickson

Valeria's Last Stand
This was a thoroughly good read, brimming with examples of quirky behavior, the flaunting of social conventions, and the ensuing, not always predictable resulting consequences. Despite their many foibles, the characters are sympathetically drawn. The reader is likely to feel validated when identifying with any of the characters who populate the small world of Valeria's village.

Mary

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

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.

Patricia

A Whale in a Puddle
It's almost impossible to believe that this wonderful little gem of a book is a first novel by a young writer. The characters are vibrant, alive, and the reader cares about them; the story is ever-changing and holds the interest; and all's well that ends well, as they say! As a retired editor (and having once been engaged to a Serb) I could find no fault, except that it is too short! Quickly, where is the next one, Marc?

Jane

A folktale for the modern age.
Marc Fitten's first novel, Valeria's Last Stand, is a delightfully crafted tale of love, disillusionment, betrayal, greed, corruption, and friendship in a small village in Hungary. It's a small village in Hungary, but we can all see ourselves in Fitten's characters. Full of symbolism and simple humanity, this is a lovely and satisfying refuge in the midst of today's complexity. A simple, warm, and wonderful read.

Barbara

An enjoyable read!
For the first 20 pages of this book, I thought,"Oh, no, this book is going to be horrible. I can't believe I have to an ARC review on it!" But, the book got much better, and I enjoyed it!

The book has some central themes that are presented in an entertaining manner: the transition from a communist/socialist society to a capitalist society; the older generation's feelings about the end of their golden age; corrupt politics - presented in a fable/fairy tale style. Valeria, the crusty old woman, grows on you. The potter is a wonderful character. And Ibolya, the tavern owner, is quintessential in her role. In some ways, this book reminded me of Joanne Harris' Chocolat. The author has said he envisions this as the first book in a trilogy that will explore "how three generations of people were affected by the major shift in the late 1980s." After reading Valeria's Last Stand, I will look forward to reading the next two installments when they are published.

...13 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Marc Fitten was born in Brooklyn in 1974 to Panamanian parents. He spent much of the 1990s living and traveling in Europe, based in Hungary. He's been published in Prairie Schooner, the Louisville Review, and the Hogtown Creek Review, and has published a napkin online at Esquire. Marc is a Ph.D. student at Georgia State University and received the Paul Bowles Fellowship for Fiction. He is currently the editor of the Chattahoochee Review

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