Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Partial History of Lost Causes; Jennifer DuBois


Author:  Jennifer DuBois
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Random House Audio
Edition: audiobook and eGalley
Readers: Kathe Mazur and Stephen Hoye
Setting: MA and Russia
Source: Library and NetGalley
Date Completed: 6/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

  All of us are doomed, but some are more doomed than others. 
Vladimir Nabokov

A Partial History of Lost Causes is a story about two very different individuals whose lives are about to intersect. Aleksandr Bezetov, is a former chess prodigy who decides to challenge Vladimir Putin for President of Russia. The other individual is a 30 year old college lecturer from Cambridge, MA named Irina Ellison.

After Irina’s father dies from Huntington’s disease, she finds a letter that he had written some twenty years earlier to the Russian chess champion, Bezetov asking him, “what is the proper way to proceed when you are dealing with a lost cause.” Her father died without ever receiving a reply. Seeking an answer to the question while suspecting that her life will also be cut short because of a genetic link to Huntington's Disease, she decides to leave her American life behind, and go to Russia to track down Aleksandr Bezetov. Not only does she hope to get an answer to her father's question, but also she hopes to add adventure and meaning to what time she has left in life.

This debut novel held my interest, and the audio book readers were very good as well. I liked the way it is narrated by the two main protagonists, in alternate chapters.  It was interesting to read about descriptions of life from the Cold War to the present. I also enjoyed the way the story rolled out contrasting Irina's personal struggles, which she had no control over, with the self inflicted struggles of Aleksandr --the two, an unlikely pair of lost causes. Without giving away significant spoilers about how this story turns out, I'll just say I was pleased  to see that Irina does find the answer to the question that she and her father wanted to know.

A Partial History of Lost Causes is the type of story that makes you remember to appreciate what you have, and to make the most of your life even if the odds are against you.

17 comments:

  1. I like the premise of this novel and your review has me wanting to put it on my watch for list.

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    1. I like reading books that are just a bit different, but not too too far out there. This one fit the bill:) try it.

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  2. I read this earlier in the year and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I loved the style but the atmosphere and the mood got to me a bit. I think I need to be in a different frame of mind the next time I read it.

    Loved your review which reinforced for me the idea I will like this someday.

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    1. For some reason Ryan, I don't think I would have enjoyed this one nearly as much if I read the print version, so maybe it wasn't you?

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  3. You've certainly piqued my interest with this one. It sounds like the audio is the way to go.

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  4. It sounds like this book left you feeling good. That's always a good sign.

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  5. I don't think I've heard about this book before. It sounds really good to me though!

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  6. I like the sounds of this one, thanks for telling us!

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  7. This sounds like a good one! Thanks for the tip. I reviewed some books on my blog this time around as well - not usual for me - but I've been doing a lot of reading lately! I'll put this on my list.
    Robin

    http://weareflyingnow.blogspot.com

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  8. I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one on audio asnim sure I have the audio on my wishlist at the library.

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  9. Huntington's Disease is a horrible illness, but this book sounds like a winner! I want to know the answer to Irina's father's question!

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  10. You always manage to find the most interesting books, Diane. Sounds like the audio on this was top-notch. I wish audio books didn't put me to sleep. Must be old age. : )

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  11. Sounds really good. I'm always looking for a good audio to listen to in the car.

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  12. I've been wondering about this one; something was putting me off about it for some reason. Need to get over that because it sounds very interesting.

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  13. Dual narrator audiobooks, when done well, always seem to work for me. I even tend to seek out audiobooks for novels told in alternating chapters. This sounds like a good one!

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  14. I'm truly curious about this one...will have to see if the library has it on audio. Between you, JoAnn, and Marys recommendations on audio books, I've been a very busy person at audible.com and think I have plently to listen to right now!!

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  15. This book sounds compelling and well worth reading. I enjoyed your review, Diane and was happy to read you liked the book. I'm glad to know that Irina's search isn;t in vain!

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