Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The Princess on the Bungheap"

A Partisan's Daughter
by Louis de Bernieres

Genre; Fiction/Romance/Drama
Publisher; Random House/London/2008
Pages; 212

Plot; Chris is a medical supplies salesman with a boring life. Neglected by his wife (aka "The Big White Loaf"), it is no wonder that when Chris sees a beautiful dark haired woman on the side of the road wearing the shortest of skirts and the highest of boots he pulls over to see how much it would be for an afternoon of affection. If only he had known she wasn't a prostitute, it would have saved him the embarrassment, but not the adventure. The young woman still gets into the car and demands a ride home which begins their strangely romantic relationship.

Roza is the daughter of a Yugoslavian partisan. She may only be in her twenties but she has lead a life full of danger, tragedy,mayhem and romance and it is with her stories that she is able to intoxicate Chris who finds himself forever bonded to the dark and dangerous beauty. But are her stories all true, or are they merely used to shock, or are they part of an intricate plot to capture Chris' heart.

My Thoughts; To be honest, I didn't really enjoy this book and was glad to put it down and move on to the next adventure. The books is mainly about the life that Roza has lead and I found her to be a less than likable character.

I appreciate that Roza has lead a difficult life, a life which has inevitably left stains on her personality, but it is the way in which she toys with Chris which lead to my instant disliking of her. The way Roza purposefully uses her stories to shock Chris for her own amusement is distasteful, and although she may have fallen in love with him in the end does that really excuse her games.

What I really didn't expect was the ending of this book. The ending was, in my opinion, abrupt and left me wanting a bit more closure. It left me with a bit of an icky feeling and, although I don't really want to give away the ending, I must say the ending left me a little angry. Angry that Roza could shock and toy with Chris but after only one stupid alcohol induced moment she completely dismisses Chris without a second thought.

Having said that, I must also admit that I didn't find Chris to be Mr. Wonderful. Chris complains about his wife at home, how she doesn't appreciate him and only considers herself and what she wants but then he is willing to be unfaithful to his marriage with a woman who is just as unappreciative and selfish. I find that nauseating.

However, having said all this, the book is really well written. Written as a commentary from both Chris and Roza in the moment and in recollection, the breakup of events and how each character saw these events is very clear and I did enjoy being able to hear a conversation from Chris' point of view and then being presented with Roza's view of the same events.

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