A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True

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Carton Quantity : 1. Rarely does a novel succeed so well in evoking place and history, especially with a story as winning as this one. A marvelous debut.

At once haunting and exquisitely vibrant, Pasulka's original tale is a treasure, transcending history, time, and place. A compassionate, elegant, and moving debut. The pigeon was not one to sit around and pine, and so the day after he saw the beautiful Anielica Hetmanska up on Old Baldy Hill, he went to talk to her father. He happened to be visiting his older brother, Jakub, who was living at the old sheep camp and tending the Hetmanski flock through the summer; she happened to be running an errand for the Fates and her father to drop off a bottle of his special herbal ovine fertility concoction.

Ordinarily, of course, a maiden meeting with a bachelor alone — and over the matter of ovine procreation no less — would be considered verboten or nilzya or whatever the Polish equivalent was before the Nazis and the Soviets routed the language and appropriated all the words for forbiddenness.

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A Long, Long Time Ago - Brigid Pasulka

The Pigeon happened to be climbing up the side of the hill just as the sun was sliding down, and when he spotted his brother talking to the girl in front of the old sheep hut, he stopped flat in his shadow and ducked behind a tree to watch. Jakub spoke with a clenched jaw, his lips spreading and puckering around an impenetrable grate of teeth, which, along with the lack of pauses in his thoughts, created a low, buzzing monotone.

The only inflection to his words came through his eyes, which bugged out when there was a word he wanted to stress, then quickly receded. It was very much like a radio left on and stuck at the edge of a station: annoying at first, but quite easy to ignore after the first twenty years or so. If you were not used to talking to him, the common stance was to lean backward, one foot pointed to the side, looking for an end to the loop of monologue that never came, finally reaching in and snapping one of his sentences in half before muttering a quick good-bye and making an escape.

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But the girl was not like this at all. In fact, she seemed to be leaning in toward Jakub, her nodding chin following his every word, her parted lips anticipating what he would say next with what very closely resembled interest and pleasure.


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Auteur: Brigid Pasulka. On the eve of World War II in a place called Half-Village, a man nicknamed the Pigeon falls in love with a girl fabled for her angelic looks.

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Using his 'golden hands' he decides to turn her family's modest hut into a beautiful home, and build his way into her heart. But war arrives, cutting short their charming courtship and bringing with it terrible events.

Brigid Pasulka--Polsat interview

Fifty years on, young Baba Yaga leaves her village to make a new life in Krakow. What she finds is not the city of her grandmother's tales but a place struggling in the aftermath of communism's fall, where opportunity seems reserved for the lucky few. Then tragedy strikes and the past reaches out an unexpected hand to her. What Louis de Bernieres did for Kefalonia, Brigid Pasulka does for Poland, weaving together the two strands of her story with a deftly magical touch into a witty, wise and heartbreaking love story that will enchant you to the very end.

Toon meer Toon minder. Recensie s Pasulka creates a world that's magical despite the absence of magical happenings, and where Poland's history is bound up in one family's story Publisher's Weekly starred review Pasulka creates a world that's magical despite the absence of magical happenings, and where Poland's history is bound up in one family's story Publisher's Weekly starred review 'Pasulka's book has a gripping story The Times There are human tragedies at both ends of the novel's timescale and Pasulka is strong on the way historical events blight human lives.

Book Review: “A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True,” by Brigid Pasulka

This story, spanning three generations, gives the reader a firsthand account of the German and Soviet oppression, as well as a reflective look at the Soviet years, and a realistic view of the newly independent, democratic Poland. While tackling such intense subjects, the book is still lighthearted, retelling the goings-on of a small Polish village and its gossipy inhabitants.

While the characters are purely fictional, their stories ring true. The book highlights both the happiest and most heartbreaking times in the lives of its characters, an important attribute that makes the events relatable instead of isolated historical happenings taking place in a faraway country and time. Personally, I have never come across such a powerful tool for explaining Polish culture, history, and the Polish spirit to a non-Polish friend.


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