I was kindly provided with a review copy of this book by Booklover Catlady Publicity in exchange for an honest review.
Whilst trying to escape from Czechoslovakia after WW2, Vaclav Bezek is unable to save Irina who is shot by the soldiers. As he holds her she is shot again and her eye falls into his hand. Before this shot she told him to run and Vaclav does, ever since living with the guilt of Irina’s death.
Vaclav eventually finds himself in America and the book tells us the story from his past in Czechoslovakia and his subsequent escape and journey to the States as well as his present story as a thespian. Vaclav has never forgotten about Irina and her memory manifests in an unusual way which he attributes to a link in his spirituality. He becomes obsessed with Faust and experiments with tantric meditation looking to deepen his connection. He has the opportunity to return to Czechoslovakia to see his mother where he receives the most unexpected news.
I found reading about Vaclav’s past more interesting and alluring than his present in mid-60s New York. In his present he isn’t a particularly likeable character with episodes of rage and violence, but also his obsessions are static, in that we don’t seem to learn more about him and he doesn’t seem to evolve at all in his present, which makes for some repetition, which Labour’s the point he is stuck and isn’t particularly exciting reading.
The twist was worth the read though and I was disappointed that a lot of what I read was just a metaphor and for me I don’t believe there was a convincing underlying theme here, just the power of suggestion.
A quick and on the whole interesting read post WW2, from a unique perspective.