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Letters from Prague [Paperback]

Sue Gee
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 April 1995
During the summer of 1968, Harriet is working in London and meets and falls in love with Karel, a Czech student. But he returns home at the time of the Russian invasion. Now, 20 years on, Harriet takes her ten-year-old daughter on an overland journey to Czechoslovakia, to rediscover her first love.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; New edition edition (6 April 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099274515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099274513
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 436,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars European Odyssey 13 May 2011
By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I have to say, having read this book twice, that I don't feel the other two reviews quite do it justice. Yes, there are some irritating moments, but on the whole this is a moving, unconventional account of a rather lonely single woman travelling with her daughter across Europe in the hope of finding the man who was perhaps the 'love of her life'.

Harriet Pickering is a 40-year-old history teacher, successful, with a busy, purposeful life, and heavily (perhaps rather narrow-mindedly) involved in left-wing politics. (Like so many very militant Leftists, Harriet in fact comes from a very comfortable upper-middle class home herself!). She has loved two men in her life - her husband, who abandoned her when their daughter Marsha was a baby - and Karel, a Czech student who she met when she was 17, and who she lost touch with after the 1968 Russian invasion of Prague, when Karel had to return to his homeland, and the Soviet grip on the Czech Republic deepened. When the Soviet Bloc collapses in the early 1990s, Harriet, who has been a single mum for ten years, decides to go and seek her former sweetheart out in Prague, travelling with her daughter first to stay with her wealthy brother Hugh and his wife Susanna in Brussels, then going on to Berlin, and finally to Prague. Harriet doesn't know what to expect - what she is certainly not prepared for is to be attracted to a former broker called Christopher Pritchard, who she meets at her brother's house in Brussels, and who, with his right-wing politics, career in money-making and seemingly over-confident manner, would seem initially to be the sort of man she would hate. But, as Harriet travels across Europe, strangely meeting Christopher first in Berlin and then in Prague, the two become close.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doomed from the very first page 3 Sep 2006
By Magpie
Format:Paperback
They say that the first page makes or breaks a novel; and I found that the first page of this novel included something written in Czech-with mistakes!!!

Okay, so the average reader can't be expected to have a clue about the Czech language, and I suppose the author doesn't either, but it got the novel off to a bad start for me and I was then inclined to mistrust everything else about it.

The whole effort seems a bit amateurish in terms of plot and character development. There were several elements of the author's writing style that I eventually found irritating, in particular the habit of repeating key phrases ("Everyone smokes in Prague" being a favourite). There were two mildly interesting plot twists, but in all the story creaked along as sluggishly as a Soviet-era "express" train.

On top of that, the reader must share 300-odd pages with a cast of somewhat dull and/or unattractive (and not even in an interesting way) main characters.

This book tries to be a romance with a political conscience, but I felt that it would have been better if the author had forgotten about the politics and just concentrated on it being a romance, because in the form it is now it fails to fulfil either as a romance or as a literary novel concerned with contemporary political issues.

On the up side, I found the description of Prague from a tourist's perspective to be fairly realistic- it is obvious that the author either knows someone from or has at least visited someone, in Prague. It is also clear that she likes the city very much and I found the description of the tourist centre of Prague quite pretty.

Let's just conclude that, while reading the book, I repeatedly found reasons to confirm the conclusion that I had come to on the very first page- that I would not be left with the feeling that my life had been enriched in the reading of it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another very enjoyable novel by Sue Gee 7 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Plenty to keep you reading and to like (or intensely dislike!) and empathise with the characters. A specially good read for professional mums like me!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very good love story. 27 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another very good read from Sue Gee. She creates a real feeling for the characters and also informs the reader about historical events and the country she sets her stories in.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Can you like a book if you hate all the characters? 30 April 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a book that could have been so much better. I hoped for a novel that would tell me something of Prague, give me some kid of flavour of the events of the 60s and the present day Prague. This gave me neither. (If you want a flavour of Prague, you would be better reading Milan Kundera.
This was a mushy, slushy read. The only thing that distinguishes it from the average Mills & Boon is the fact that the writer does not allow the two main characters from melting into each others arms.
The main problem is the central character. It seems almost impossible to find any sympathy for her at all. She is wet, she is ignorant, full of cliches about Mother-love, single parenthood, "radical" (supposedly!) politics. If I had met her I am certain that I would wish to forget her asap. I read the book willing both male characters to escape from her, and her awful child. Feminism is not a condition that should as a rule render a woman helpless, boring and unattractive. (this is what seems to have happened to this one)
The only worse character in the novel was the child Marsha, who seemed to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
I have read many novels and found the characters unlikeable. This is an interesting experience if the characters are interesting. None of the characters in this book are! Their suffering, their dreams are made banal by cliche.
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