Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Breaking of Eggs and a Giveaway

by Jim Powell

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***


Kristen M. said...

I've already had my eye on this one so I'd love to win a copy! I'm glad to read such a great review of it.


Utah Mom said...

That first quote especially is so timely. It sounds like an interesting book.


Zibilee said...

I have been wondering if I would like this review, and your wonderful review makes me think I just might! Please do enter me in your giveaway, I'd love a chance to win it!!


Zibilee said...

Sorry, I meant to say, I have been wondering if I would like this BOOK! Silly typos!

Nan said...

This sounds really, really interesting to me. I've recently read two books which deal with this subject - The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell and The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason. I find the whole notion of what do people do who were very involved in communism and anti-communism. It certainly dominated so much for so long. Thanks for the mention of this book which I hadn't heard of. I must read it. Oh, also I wanted to mention a movie you might like- The Lives of Others.

Anonymous said...

I have already entered several contests for this one and no luck yet. Think is good one.


Margie said...

Thanks for the giveaway.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Mystica said...

Thanks for this very interesting book giveaway.


Tamara said...

You do write a good review and this book sounds great - a little bit of Paris, a little bit of history, some character self reflection and some politics. Great ingredients, I would mind tasting the cake.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

It sounds terrific. I'd love to win!