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A Partisan's Daughter [Paperback]

Louis de Bernieres
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

29 Jan 2009

Chris is in his forties: bored, lonely, trapped in a loveless, sexless marriage. He's a stranger to the 1970s youth culture of London, a stranger to himself on the night he invites a prostitute into his car.

Roza is Yugoslavian, recently moved to London. She's in her twenties, but has already lived a life filled with danger, misadventure, romance, and tragedy. And though she's not a prostitute, when she's propositioned by Chris, she gets into his car anyway.

Over the next few months Roza tells Chris the stories of her past. She's a fast-talking Scheherazade, saving her own life by telling it to Chris. And he takes in her tales as if they were oxygen in an otherwise airless world. But is Roza telling the truth? Does it even matter?

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A Partisan's Daughter + Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village + Birds Without Wings
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (29 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099520281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099520283
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Louis de Bernières is the best-selling author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best Book in 1995. His most recent novels are Birds Without Wings and A Partisan's Daughter and a collection of stories Notwithstanding.

Product Description


"A triumph - a finely executed little masterpiece" (Daily Mirror)

"It's a glory...intensely moving...It's a wise and moving novel, perfectly accomplished. It shows that no life is ordinary. It shines fresh light on the nature of love" (Guardian)

"Sublimely funny and moving...by the time I'd finished this sleek little novel I'd laughed out loud numerous times and, eventually, cried. That's as true a testimony to a book's loveliness as I know" (Independent)

"A striking and wise novel, deceptively slight yet emotionally profound" (New Statesman)

"This is a silk stocking of a novel: fragile, light - and yet possessed of surprising tensile strength...making it look this simple is a real art" (The Times)

Book Description

A beautifully wrought and unlikely love story, exploring the power of storytelling.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `100 stories rolled into one'. 3 Jan 2010
It can be crippling for a writer when one of their books becomes a worldwide sensation, and with a read like Captain Corelli's Mandolin it was seen as inevitable, however, after reading A Partisans Daughter it doesn't seem as if he has fallen into this category. This book is not only engaging and captivating but also unexpected.
Looking in hindsight at the first few pages, it's misleading. De Bernières introduction provokes a tonal feeling of sexual deviancy and promiscuity due to his prolific referencing to prostitution. The story starts with Chris, a middle-aged man who is trapped in a burnt out marriage. Chris recounts the story of a friend who has told of his experiences with a prostitute. From here De Bernières moves onto Chris' own `experience'. However, Chris' encounter is far from the stories of his friend. He befriends Roza, a Serbian Partisan's Daughter mistaken to be a prostitute, who, instead of having sex with Chris, takes him on a different journey every time they meet. De Bernières descriptive approach enables the reader to fully engage with the story due to his ability to sparingly flesh-out the story, leaving enough for the reader to apply their own unique subjective imagery. Over a long period of time, and with each visit, Roza tells Chris her life story. However, one is never sure whether Chris is there for the stories or there to see Roza; and as the story progresses, it becomes transparent that Chris isn't sure either.
A Partisan's Daughter is written in the form of memoirs, and interchanges from narrator to narrator. De Bernières personal approach lets the reader make their own decision on the characters, rather than an overt third person narrative that can cause detachment, it feels as if the narrators are talking directly to the reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loneliness expressed through a conversation 24 Mar 2011
Novella from de Bernieres written in the form of a conversation. Chris is bored, middle aged, middle England, suffering loss of meaning in a tired marriage that has past its sell-buy date. Roza is from Yugoslavia and full of all the passion that Chris is missing from his life. They meet when Chris attempts to pick up a prostitute, and mistakenly chooses Roza. He is embarrased into offering her a lift home.

Thus begins their relatonship, with Chris finding excuses to visit, to listen to Roza's stories of her life in Yugoslavia with her Partisan father and her exploits since moving to London. The stories evolve in alternating monologue, with each telling their side of the story.

The story is a slow burner, with an evolving relationship between the characters and an underlying sexually charged connecton, that is clearly building to a crescendo. The manner of the apogee is unexpected from the earlier story, but suitably poignant. The only let-down is the concluson of the book following this point, which feels disappointingly rapid and concluded in haste.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serbian Nights 16 Jun 2009
I used to buy a packet of button-sized biscuits each topped with a tooth-decaying whirl of variously-coloured rock-solid icing sugar, they were called Little Gems and I loved them. Sadly you can't get them anymore but you can get this instead, a little gem by Louis de Bernieres that is just as delicious and leaves you wanting more, which is just how I like them, rather than overly long like so many otherwise excellent novels.

Back in the 70's and mirroring the country's political crisis in his personal circumstances, Chris is a forty-something travelling salesman who has pretty much given up on the likelihood of any more pleasure let alone excitement in his life, which definitely includes sex with his disinterested wife. One evening, for no apparent reason and seemingly quite out of character, he somehow finds himself sub-consciously in kerb-crawling mode and cack-handedly tries to pick up a girl in North London who he mistakenly decides is on the game. That girl is Roza, one-time hostess-come-prostitute (so Chris might be excused his error), Serbian daughter of one of Titos's partisans and currently inhabitant of a derelict property in Archway. Sequentially confused and then amused by Chris's blunder, and subsequently having put Chris right about her current circumstances, Roza nonetheless gets into his car and, in wonderfully direct and east-European English, tells him to take her home, it is, after all, the least he can do. He dutifully and shamefacedly does as ordered, from which encounter blossoms an acquaintance, leading to a deliciously slow-burning friendship leading to a wonderful Arabian-Nights tale of Roza's life and Chris's fall into basic infatuation.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an unusual one for de Bernieres 2 Feb 2009
By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is dificult to categorise this one. As with Red Dog[see my recent review] it is neither an epic historical novel per Birds Without Wings and Captain Corelli nor a mythical romp per Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts and The Troublesome Offspring Of Cardinal Guzman. This book is on a much smaller scale , but none the less as enjoyable.
It is like eaves'dropping on an intimate conversation which is really none of our business. Perhaps this intimacy hightens the drama ,humour and urgency to finish the book in one sitting. The lives of the two narrators unfold:The lonely sexually frustrated middle aged man; the young Yugoslav of the title with her roller coaster background of romance, abuse and hurt. Through their conversations we watch their love develop but will it be consumated?
At the end we know who Chris is , but who is The Partisans Daughter?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars An Intrusive Narrator
The construct of this novel is unusual; the book is about Roza with her story being narrated by Chris, as it is told to him, and by Roza herself - they alternate chapters (mostly). Read more
Published 10 months ago by Stuart Sussex Scribe
3.0 out of 5 stars Louis de Bernieres
I was hoping for a book as good as Captain Corelli's Mandolin. But I didn't enjoy it as much; probably a personal thing.
Published 10 months ago by D. Gray
4.0 out of 5 stars Will he or won't he?
I loved the joke about the cockerels, loved the build up of sexual tension, I've had my own 'great white loaf' so this isn't simply mens problems with women, I as a women, could... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Sexyetti
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
This book is quite short but hugely enjoyable.
De Berniers is a superb writer who wrings out emotion at will.
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars 100 years of solitude split between 1970s North London and 1950s /...
The book is a very interesting combination of magical realism a la Gabriel Garcia Marquez (as in One Hundred Years of Solitude), the Balkans, and 1970s Britain. Read more
Published 17 months ago by AK
4.0 out of 5 stars Mildly disappointing for a Bernieres novel
Sadly I have to say that this really does not match up to his usual level of writing.

It is a compelling story with a thread running through that keeps you reading, but... Read more
Published 22 months ago by N. Jaffa
1.0 out of 5 stars Careless plotting spoiled this book for me
Roza didn't have much of a relationship with her brother because he was born in 1946 and she "waited until 1960". That would have made her 13 when she met Chris. Read more
Published on 23 July 2012 by Alan Murray
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow burner
I read this book over a number of months which may partly account for my description of it as a slow burner, but also possibly because the initial chapters didnt prove so gripping... Read more
Published on 28 May 2012 by PJordan
3.0 out of 5 stars A Partisan's Daughter by Louis de Bernieres
This is the story of Chris and Roza set in the late 1970s. Chris is a 40-something sales rep, stuck in a humdrum life and a loveless marriage. Read more
Published on 24 April 2011 by iandliz
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts
At times a moving story - especialy the final ending, but much was simply unconvincing - for example the scene at the beginning when the protagonists first meet. Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2010 by R. Newton
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