As a second-generation Polish immigrant, this book may have been about my family- some of the characters could have been relatives from my own childhood; as were the Polish clubs of provincial 1960's/70's Britain, the Sunday Polish Masses in the local Catholic church and the need to be part of the "host" culture as young, alienated children of traumatized immigrants. The family story this depicts- secret suicides, war, unmentioned and unmentionable love affairs, death, tragedy, displacement and coming to terms with living in a totally alien and ignorant culture, were all elements of my own family history.
This is a very easy book to read, but with a very difficult subject matter- I found it almost impossible to put down- it's quite panaromic in terms of it's setting. Clever twists in the plot link scenes of 1970's Derby, (including that hot summer of 1976), the swinging London of the 1960's, pre-War Polish Aristocratic life, and the post-War bleak Soviet housing estates of Warsaw, together with sympathetic scenes of the beauty of the medieval centre of Krakow. Harowing at times, thought provoking and ultimately life-affirming, for me one of the books of the year.