Friday, March 18, 2011

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True; Brigid Pasulka

Title: A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True
Author: Brigid Pasulka
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Edition: eBook
Source: purchase
Date Completed: 3/16/2011
Setting: Poland
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Recommend: Yes

World War II is looming, and a young man nicknamed Pigeon, from a place called Half-Village, falls in love with the most beautiful girl of the mountain village. Pigeon knows a bit about women, growing up with eight sisters of his own. To prove his sincere intentions about the beautiful, Anielica Hetmanski, he offers to transform her family's hut-like home into something beautiful. Pigeon is said to have  “golden hands” and is an extremely talented craftsman. As a result, his accomplishments and sincerity win his way into Anielica's heart, and the couple falls in love. When war arrives, their marriage plans are delayed, and they eventually leave their life in Half-Village for the promise of a new and better life in Kraków.

Nearly fifty years later, their granddaughter, Beata, (Baba Yaga) follows in the footsteps of her grandparents, leaving the Village for a better life in Krakow.  There, in the new Poland, she lives with acidic, yet funny aunt Irena and her flashy cousin Magda. She discovers that Kraków is caught somewhere in between its future and its past.

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, spans three generations, and gives the reader a good sense of the German and Soviet oppression.  From the beginning, the story alternates between the grandparents life in old Poland during WWII and the years that followed, and their grandaughter, Beata's life in new Poland - Krakow in the mid 1990s.  Both stories are good in their own way, but I was more drawn to the almost fairy tale like feel of the Anielica and Pigeon story, and life in old Poland.

The story was sad and even tragic at times, but I was amazed at the many times the author was able to make me laugh or at least smile throughout this novel. The characters were genuine and their struggles were realistic. I connected with the characters early on, and felt like they could have been family members from generations, now long gone. Ms Pasulka, a debut author has real talent. The way the two stories were woven together, was seamless and the love story aspect of this novel was quite touching as well.  This is a novel that should appeal to many readers.


  1. You've made the characters in this book sound magnificent.

  2. You know I'm adding this one to my to-read list! I'll link to your review on War Through the Generations as well.

  3. I've this book on my TBR! You've convinced me to read it! Thanks for the wonderful review.

  4. This book sounds amazing. I love books that have the ability to make you laugh and cry.

  5. I am sure this will be one of my favorite books of 2011 -- I absolutely loved it, and I'm glad you did too!

  6. I remember reading a review a while back and thinking this book sounded so good. Your review reminded me that I'd like to still read it. Nice review Diane!

  7. Thanks for the review. I love your banner. Great place to sit and read.

  8. This is the perfect book for me! I can not, for some reason, get enough of book set in WWII and anytime there is some humor thrown in to help break up the inevitable sadness it's good.

  9. This sounds like something I'd like. I'm going to add it to my list. Thanks for the review.

  10. My family on my dad's side is Polish so this would be interesting to me from that perspective. Love the title.

  11. I'm glad to hear you recommend this one. It's been on my potential read list for a while as I've seen a few other positive reviews.

  12. Sounds like a must read for me!! I loved reading your thoughts on this one!

  13. You have written such a evocative and beautiful review of this book that I feel I must now check it out. I hadn't heard much about it before, but now I look forward to trying it!

  14. I know I have this book written down somewhere because I remember reading great reviews of it when it came out. Somehow I never actually tracked down a copy, but it sounds so good. Thanks for reminding me of it!

  15. Great review on what sounds like a very meaningful story. It does take skill to write about something tragic and still give the reader some mirth. Thank you!


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