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Bringing up Girls in Bohemia Paperback – Mar 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 187 pages
  • Publisher: Readers International (Mar 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887378057
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887378055
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.1 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,094,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

Beata is a 20-year-old drop-out, daughter of a millionaire of dubious connections. She embraces lover after lover, as well as causes new to Eastern Europe, in this satirical look at Prague today.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Jan 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a book that anyone fond of good writing skills will love. Set within the cultural and political Czech Republic of the 1990's, the story begins with an offer from a businessman and corrupt politician to a local teacher. The politician's spoilt elder twenty year old daughter is hopelessly depressed, and the teacher is supposed to give her creative writing lessons (or actually anything that will make this rich selfcentered girl start talking with her parents again). Viewegh is a phenomenal story teller, always surprising you with new ironic retrospectives on events and people which often grow into a grotesque saga. This book will appeal to readers from Middle and Eastern European countries or any other country in transition. This book is a quick read, but one that can't be let go so easily. The reader will find herself thumbing back to favorite and amusing segments of the (in the major part) actually true story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Brookes on 6 Jan 2011
Format: Paperback
"Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia" is a novel by Michal Viewegh:- one of the most popular contemporary Czech writers - and apparently also the best-selling one...

This is a slim but dense novel, which mainly concerns the story of a middle-aged teacher who is employed by a local Mafioso to teach his 20 year old daughter, Beata, creative writing. From the narrator's first visit to the gloomy bedroom of this uncommunicative individual, it is apparent that this is no ordinary task - he is actually expected to bring her out of her depression after the break-up with a former boyfriend, based upon the vague notion that she has previously expressed a wish to write.

All of this sets the book up to be a relatively light read: an impression reinforced by the book's cover - which, with its bright-pink cover and cartoon image of a pair of lady's legs - seems to be consciously positioning itself as a lightweight book. Similarly; the blurb on the back, with phrases such as "picaresque romp" lead to expectations of a description of the amiable adventures of a teacher approaching mid-life crisis who is thrown together with the young daughter of the local gangster who, though 20, exhibits the actions of a stroppy teenager. Indeed, given the age difference, certain echoes of Nabokov are distinctly evident here.

However, despite the basic plot, this book is intended by the author as nothing of the sort. His alternative intention is also flagged up on the back cover description which - as well as ascribing the novel with the dual role of being "a serious exploration of the writer in post-communist Europe", also signposts, almost in passing, Beata's ultimate suicide.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Jan 2001
Format: Paperback
A poor but funny teacher is recruited to recover a depressive young beauty. The ensuing conflict brings her into the classroom. Come to think of it, I'll rather have had the teacher leaving the school. This novel is like his narrator, hesitant and charming. It looks like amusement without revelation. But don't get fooled: here survival is a curse.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Bohemian postmodernism? 9 Sep 1999
By "vparobek" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When the wife of the nameless narrator in BUG nudges him not to forget about his plan to "write a postmodern novel," the reader wonders if Viewegh isn't playing with us outright and letting us know that he plans to do precisely that. He plays with us in just this fashion throughout the entire book, probably snickering to himself, wishing he could see our reaction as we come across an abrupt authorial aside like "Gee, I really like writing on a computer" or "Hey--I really like this new screen saver!" Just the novel's catchy title and pink art-deco cover alone clue us to what lays inside. An opening quote from Czech writer Vera Linhartova claims that a story "can begin anywhere" since past events "...lie all around us in a continuous, formless mass without beginning or end." After this motto, BUG begins conventionally enough with our narrator receiving an unusual job offer to tutor creative writing to a troubled teenage girl which he reluctantly accepts. Starting with page one, we come across Viewegh's first postmodern gimmick in the narrative: seemingly random italicized phrases like "lucrative job" or "certain precautions." And just like in his first novel, Sightseers (very entertaining despite--or because of--its political incorrectness), the author includes meta-fiction elements within the story. Then again, perhaps postmodernism is the best tool to write about post-communist Prague. How else can a native Praguer view the onslaught of contemporary Western "luxury causes" like animal rights or the feminist movement? If BUG isn't exactly realism, perhaps we could also dub it satire, for Viewegh can be devastating when describing the Western onslaught into his native city. He does this mostly through the tutored pupil, Beata, who never really comes alive as a believable character in the story, unrealistically and flightily jumping from one social cause to the next, accompanied by her American boyfriend who works for the Prague Post (do we detect some unspoken scorn for the Post here?). Beata is not the only female character in BUG that comes across as flat and one-dimensional; the narrator's wife plays the part of the suspicious, harried hag and his female teaching peers are plain empty-headed. Just as the plot is improbable, Beata's father (who hires our narrator as her tutor) as a Mafioso figure is just as improbable; ditto her leap from catatonia to hysteria and finally, suicide. The mention of the latter is not a giveaway to the story's ending for Beata's suicide is divulged in the book's jacket copy as well as in the start of the story. Between beginning and end lies not only the account of his tutoring endeavours with Beata but general ongoing commentary about his life and culture in the "new" Czech Republic. We get ample info on the absurdities of the old Socialist school system and even a loyal declaration to Czech President Vaclav Havel. His "I would go through fire and water for our President..." speaks volumes about the author's feelings for his new President. Topical bits and pieces on Prague city life are ongoing with mention of actual places included throughout the story. Towards the end of the story when aspiring-writer Beata confesses "I'm only interested in destroying the traditional narrative form," we are not surprised. Viewegh does just this throughout BUG with all kinds of asides and gimmicks. He shows a delightful inconsistency toward Czech novelist Daniela Hodrova with an early veiled barb: "One day I hope to be able to understand the novels of Daniela Hodrova" but later on in the text incorporates a straightforward quote from Hodrova pertaining to writing in general. BUG is both cute and vacuous. Some critics have mentioned that it is funnier when read in the original Czech.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Life in the the Czech Republic 5 Jan 1999
By Miguel Hidalgo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is written for the meticulous reader about culture, and delicately provides "subtle" societal mores about the new eastern bloc countries simply discovering their new freedoms. A graduate student in international studies would find this book fascinating to read. This is one of those books that gets "underneath the skin" of the Czech culture and it becomes valuable for someone interested in doing business and learning about the country. While the title and the story quickly seems too provoking, its translation and overall writing presentation is mature and reveals the author's sophistication as a classic story.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The not-so-great Central European bestseller 18 Oct 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
While the much-praised book does offer a good joke every now and then, the attention it receieved in Central Europe is probably due to the breakup with the "very very serious... and sad" stories usually told in the region. Apart from a bizzare portrait of the new riches of Prague, there's not much to be appreciated in the book.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
As a teacher and Czechophile I found this an amusing read. 6 Oct 2000
By S. J. Ziegler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One may wonder why a reviewer would take the time to write an insightful negative review nearly as long as the book itself. Some people just want an amusing read.
From Chapter X: "Beata was of the opinion that present-day Prague was Paris of the Twenties for the Americans. I would see, she said, that something really great would emerge out of that explosion of creativity (it struck me that it wasn't so much an explosion of creativity as an explosion of private joy at the rate of the crown to the dollar, but I held my tongue)..."
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