'I quickly became immersed in this story of a Polish immigrant family. The daughter is especially intriguing...' -- The Guardian, December 27, 2008
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Babcia folded her mottled, 69-year-old hands in her lap, looked up at the brooding icon of the Black Madonna hanging on the wall above the fireplace and then lowered her gaze to the sepia photograph of her husband on the mantelpiece. She noticed with annoyance that someone had stuck a curling black and white print of her three grandchildren into the edge of its gilt frame. Her husband's elegant pose (seated sideways on a straightback chair, legs crossed, pretending to read a book) was thus half concealed by a cheap Kodak image of Wanda (scowling), Zosia (smiling) and Janek (poking out his tongue to the camera). Babcia tutted and looked round the sitting room to see what else could inspire her displeasure.
Television- one thing Babcia hated was television. The little black and white box was blaring out some nonsense about tin monsters. Six-year-old Janek was throwing himself around on the sofa with excitement. This aggravated Babcia, partly because she didn't think children should behave in this fashion in the sitting room (and another thing Babcia hated was badly behaved children) and partly because she didn't understand a word being said on the television and the child did. Not that Babcia lacked talent for languages - she spoke fluent Polish, Russian, French and some German. Yet her seven-year sojourn in England had so far only seen her learn the words 'hello', 'goodbye' and 'parsnip'. Wanda had taught her these words and informed her grandmother that 'parsnip' was a formal English greeting only to be used in polite society...