Monday, 4 August 2008

Louis de Bernières – “A Partisan’s Daughter”

Publ: 2008 ISBN: 9781846551413
Rating - *****

Best known for “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” this latest work by Louis de Bernieres is equally good. When I first read “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” I decided there was no way I would watch the film because it would be impossible for it to capture the atmosphere if the book and the skill of the writing.
Set in North London during the Winter of Discontent, A Partisan's Daughter features the relationship between Chris, an unhappily married, middle-aged Englishman and Roza, a young Serbian woman who has recently moved to London.
While driving through Archway in the course of his job as a medical rep, Chris is captivated by a young woman on a street corner. Clumsily, he engages her in conversation, and he secures an invitation to return one day for a coffee. His visits become more frequent and Roza starts to tell him the story of her life, drawing him increasingly into her world- - from her childhood as a daughter of one of Tito's Partisans through her journey to England and on to her more recent colourful and dangerous past in London.
A Partisan's Daughter is about the power of storytelling. It is also a beautifully wrought and unlikely love story which is both compelling and moving to read.
Some quotations:-

“My wife was alive back then, but the trouble is that sooner or later, at best, your wife turns into your sister. at worst she becomes your enemy, and sets herself up as the principal obstacle to your happiness.”

“I don’t think that most women understand the nature of a man’s sexual drive. They don’t realise that for a man it isn’t just something quite nice that’s occasionally optional, like flower arranging.”

“She reminded me of a great loaf of white bread, plumped down on the sofa in its cellophane wrapping.”

“I sometimes wonder whether the reason that puritanical religious types are so keen on marriage is their certain knowledge that it’s the one way to make sure that people get the least possible amount of sex.”

“I don’t have any understanding of what being in love is, though I think it’s happened to me a few times, and especially with Roza. You can’t look it up in medical encyclopedias, and you don’t get documentaries about it on the television. I have been thinking recently that it’s learned from films and novels and songs, and there’s probably nothing natural about it.”

“It (the cart horse) was apparently called ‘Russia’ because it was very big, a complete liability, and always going where it wasn’t wanted.”

“I heard that the Russians have a proverb about Yugoslavs. It goes, ‘Where there are two Yugoslavs there are three factions, and that’s just the communists.’”

“It was the kind of cigarette that performs a tonsillectomy all on its own.”

“God and I have an agreement to leave each other alone. I don’t bother Him and He doesn’t bother me. If we meet in the street we raise our hats and smile and give each other a wide berth.”

“New Zealand is a lovely place. It’s just like England when i was young, full of quiet, decent, humorous people who eat bread and butter and whose clothes don’t quite fit.”

LOUIS DE BERNIÈRES' first three novels are “The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts” (Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best First Book Eurasia Region, 1991), “Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord” (Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best Book Eurasia Region, 1992), and “The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman”. The author, born in 1954, was selected as one of the Granta twenty Best of Young British Novelists in 1993. “Captain Corelli's Mandolin” won the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best Book, 1995.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello folks - your comments are always welcome.