Sunday, June 13, 2010
A Partisan's Daughter by Louis De Bernieres
Thus starts the relationship between Chris and Roza. Roza is a young Yugoslavian woman who is in England illegally. Chris does stop by her apartment and she becomes a modern-day Scheherazade, full of exotic stories that have made up her life. Each story reveals more and more of her character and needs. Chris is entranced, both by Roza personally and by the stories she tells. He is shown a side of life he'd never seen as he realizes that while he wants more adventure in his life, he is actually unlikely to pursue it if it means leaving his comfortable, boring life. "I wouldn't want to be a partisan unless I got weekends off and missions were optional."
Roza's stories revolve around men in her life, starting with her father. He fought for various factions in Yugoslavia as a partisan, and lived his life afterwards extolling the strength and honor of men like him who were willing to sacrifice everything for the land and lives they loved. Then there is her first love, met when she attended college. After that, she met a man who brought her to England and she lived with him for a while, then slowly drifted away when she got bored. She drifted into hostess work. Roza is fatalistic about her life, and is quick to say she has disappointed the idea of being a partisan's daughter.
Louis De Bernieres has created two characters that the reader quickly learns to care about. The slow emergence of Roza's history and of Chris' reaction to its revelations creates a tension that leaves the reader anxious and intrigued. The reader wants to read more of the emerging relationship between these two people who are so diametrically opposed in outlook and life experiences. This book is recommended for readers of current fiction, and is one that will remain in the reader's mind for quite a while after it is completed.