Meet Feliks Zhukowski, a Pole in Paris and a hangover from another age. Decades back, he chose politics over people and ideas over love. Feliks’ life’s work is a travel guide to the old Eastern bloc. His personal life is a series of failures. Unfortunately for him, it’s 1991, Communism has collapsed and, at 61, his travel-writing days are numbered. So he decides to sell his guide. This sets in motion a series of life-changing events: he’ll meet the brother he hasn’t seen in fifty years, learn the truth about the mother he thought abandoned him, and get a second chance with a long-lost love. But, after five decades of misunderstanding, can he start his life afresh – and finally learn that you shouldn’t cook like Stalin?
I had just finished reading Louise Penny's A Rule Against Murder and had the next in that series calling my name when I started to read The Breaking of Eggs. At about page 45 I couldn't ignore the tug at my heart from my favorite mystery series so I set aside this book and picked up The Brutal Telling. After that I was ready to settle in with a communist egghead named Feliks.
It was very interesting to read from the perspective of someone who had such opposing political views than I do and I wasn't so sure I would like being in his head. But I did like it, even learned a lot about myself and about Europe before and during the 2nd World War.
When I said, "I liked it" I should have said that I loved it. Fritz is a very matter-of-fact guy and his narrative is the same. I book darted 16 passages. I thought this passage speaks as strongly of today's political atmosphere as it did in the 30's and 40's:
That's the trouble with times like that. When you have a threat from one extreme, people run to the other extreme to prevent it. It doesn't matter which extreme is the devil and which is the savior. What matters is that the center collapses. Everything reasonable goes straight out the window.And this one when Feliks was contemplating the destruction of the Berlin Wall and his interaction with an important person to him.
Our wall came down through weakness. My weakness in allowing myself to be hurt by the taunts of a fascist. Her weakness in allowing a pinch of vulnerability to sneak beneath her defenses and make her momentarily confess the wretchedness of her life. Two moments of weakness resulting in, what, a moment of strength? How could strength come about in such a way? How could that be the way you built strength? You built strength by constructing walls, not by demolishing them. Surely that is what you did.And finally this one:
It was necessary to be selective about the past. Things happened to all of us that should not happen, that we wished had not happened. We had to put these things behind us, not to pretend they had not happened, but not to dwell on them either, and to make a new life and meet new people and get on with it. There were fault lines in the cloths that each of us had woven, places where the warp and the weft of life had become disjointed. If you revisited those places, there was always the danger that everything you had subsequently woven would unravel.Let me add that this book was long listed for the The Desmond Elliott Prize for New Fiction.
Thanks to Lindsay and Penguin for sending me this wonderful book. Also, for providing a chance for you to win a copy for yourself.
To Win The Breaking of Eggs by Jim Powell:
Leave a comment with a way for me to reach you so I can let you know you won. I know you will!
Drawing Date: August 18 midnight
***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***