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Hardly Ever Otherwise

Hardly Ever Otherwise [Kindle Edition]

Maria Matios

Print List Price: £13.80
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Product Description


2007, Book of the Year − Hardly Ever Otherwise 2007, Grand Prix at Coronation of Words−Hardly Ever Otherwise

Product Description

Painting a tortured picture of life’s harsh brutality in the region, Maria provides an insight into the complicated history of this remote corner of the Carpathian Mountains. Against the colourful backdrop of local traditions and highlanders’ rites she weaves her story of love, intertwined with a heart wrenching human tragedy, not avoiding intimate details of the anatomy of relationships between men and women.

Enchanted by the impeccable style of this family saga, the reader becomes baffled by the character’s actions. In the words of Maria Matios the book is about people’s deeply concealed nature. When familiar passions like love and hate, joy and envy overcome them and it’s not in their nature to resist, consequences reach the catastrophic magnitude. Each character is flawed, detestable, but in the book’s finale they incite compassion as their painful past is steadily revealed. The eternal dilemma of sin and atonement pervades the pages of this book. The author does not shy away from carnal encounters and masterfully describes the psychology of lovers, accentuating people’s struggles on different levels.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 700 KB
  • Print Length: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Glagoslav (30 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008OHF4I4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #915,998 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First-rate psychological examination of people in traditional and oppressive culture 2 Sep 2012
By Michael Burianyk - Published on
Maria Matios is a contemporary, award winning Ukrainian writer. Several of her works have been translated into other languages, but "Hardly Ever Otherwise" is her first novel translated into English. The book is a literary triptych - overlapping parts of the whole told from three different points of view - exploring a tragedy of romantic and sexual obsessions in a conservatively traditional and oppressive culture. However, this background, though particular to western Ukraine at the beginning of the 20th century, is still universal. The characters are fully human and sympathetic. The translation from the Ukrainian by Yury Tkacz is more than just competent. It is fluent, but doesn't draw attention to itself and intrude into the story. I highly recommend this novel for readers who appreciate psychological complexity.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable book 29 Aug 2012
By Matrix Orange - Published on
The name of writer Maria Matios is well known in Ukraine, and reading the book will never let you forget that you are dealing with a leading lady of Ukrainian literature. The plot of the novel centers around a murder in a Hutsul village around World War I when that part of Ukraine belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Divided into three parts, the novel explores the personal and psychological aspects of the murder through different points of view, mainly the women of the village. The latter - the victim's mother, lover, sister-in-law, and his father's former mistress - present their own version of the events leading to the murder, thus providing additional details about the event and solving the main psychological mystery - what motivated people to kill their neighbor and brother. This is what moves the plot and makes one wonder till the last page what really happened. At the same time the women's stories reflect their own interpretation of the surrounding world and family life, thus creating a portrayal of a turn of the century Ukrainian mountainous village with all its problems, superstitions, anguish and hopes. The novel mingles realistic details with elements of folklore which are part of women's lore. The shifting of the points of view of the main women characters only reinforces this. Even though the murder victim is a man, the story of his murder and its impact on the village life is told by women, using their point of view and assessment of the events. It is no wonder then that the title of the book comes from one of the female characters whose life's wisdom dictates that "...people never manage to thank others for their good deeds, or to pay them back for their insults. Not anyone. Not even themselves. And it is hardly ever otherwise." "Hardly Ever Otherwise" is an excellent piece of fiction which would be enjoyed by readers of different ages and walks of life. I can highly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery, the human condition, history... so many elements in one book! 13 Jun 2013
By Slavic Lit Fan - Published on
Maria Matios' Hardly Ever Otherwise combines elements of different genres - family saga, mystery, and novels exploring human psychology - to great effect, giving us a gripping and yet profound account of events and emotions affecting the lives of country folk in Western Ukraine. Set in the times of the Austro-Hungarian empire around the time of the First World War, the novel addresses enduring themes - family, love, and community, to name but a few.

The role of morals in how we live our lives is a key theme of the book: although morality in many ways strongly structures the lives of this small, rural community, Matios shows how easily it can be abandoned: it only takes a moment for the sometimes cruel vagaries of fate, or a swell of emotion in your breast, and everyday morals can fly out of the window. Unfortunately for some of the characters, such as the battered Dmytryk, these transgressions often come at a price. Matios cleverly works up the tension around the twisted yarns of the book's central mystery (which I won't spoil for you here!) and plays upon the grey area between fantasy and reality as young wife Dotska bears witness to the Cain and Abel-like battles between her husband and his brothers.

Matio's portrait of a certain point in Ukraine's history was enthusiastically received in its native country; it was seen as filling in a historical gap by its use of local Hutsul (highland Ukrainian) dialect and vividly portraying of what are, for most people, long-forgotten ways of living. We see food customs and weddings, legal wrangling and pagan rituals carried out by the local wise woman, Marynka Godspirit. Although it is primarily an entertaining rather than an educational book, the author's exploration of the inner emotions of her characters - especially the women - is a reminder of the constraints faced by our ancestors (whether you are Ukrainian or not); the village's judgement weighs heavy on their actions, even if they do not always choose to pay it heed.

I sped through this book in a single day - although I'm not usually a fan of mysteries, the believable and often sympathetic characters (particularly Dotska and Petrunia), and Matios' ability to make us wonder what their motives really are had me hooked from the first chapter.
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