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Customer reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars

on 21 October 2001
This is the type of book I love: a book of a travel that combines the oral history of individuals with and insight of the "proper" history of a neglected area. This book is a combination of one man's memory of living through the tumultuous period of 2nd World War Eastern Europe. I say Eastern Europe and not just Poland, because the book really does provide the atmosphere of an area where the borders and allegiances have always been fluid.
I found the history enlightening without being oppressive and just enough that was necessary to bring a cohesion to both the father Bronek's (the survivor who trekked the mountains in non-grip ski-boots and ended up farming in Wales) and the son Mark's (the author who is presently restoring boats and furniture in Scotland) story: the former into the shadowy past of the elderly and the author into an obsession and the reactions to the journey.
The book never falls into soppiness nor cliched bonding, but does show the natural way that children start to do for their parents when they notice that the flies are undone or the hair not quite combed.
In general a book that keeps you going from chapter to chapter and gives you a little more knowledge of the world we live in.
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on 27 August 2004
As a child of Polish/English parents wishing to know more about my father's past life (he never wants to talk about it either) I eagerly bought this book. While there is indeed some information and a bit of a story, you really have to work for it. The style of writing is not condusive to easy reading. I know that the story comes of personal recollections, but the writing just rambles, making it difficult to follow. (As no doubt his father did). But that does not make for an enjoyable, readable tome.
If you want to torture yourself into finding out a bit more about Poland at various times (but not the present day), and to look at it through just one person's view, then buy this book.
I truly think that my biggest disappointment was to discover that the memories are of an American born Pole (still Polish I agree).
The other parts of the book that truly made me cringe were the occassional use of Polish. It came over as just showing off the few words that the author knew and thought he could spell.
I'm sorry but this book should have been kept for the family alone to read..........
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on 20 November 2001
This is a wonderful book, the author is a natural story-teller but writes with an engaging style encompassing pathos and humour but never slipping into mawkishness. The descriptive writing is the most evocative yet pithy I have seen for a long time, and the historical analysis is perceptive and thorough but not dogmatic or overwhelming. A moving and entertaining tale not just for exiles and the children of exiles!
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