In his evocative narration, Glen McCready accomplishes the narrative equivalent of a sepia-toned photograph. At once he conveys a sense that we are in a time and place soaked in sorrows - first, Czechoslovakia during the war, then, New York in the decade or two afterwards. But he also captures an immediacy that renders the conflicting emotions of love astonishingly vivid and present. Slouka's tricky novel begins with a young narrator, the son of Czech émigrés, recalling the suicide of his mother. This mystery eventually leads him to Prague and his attempt to unearth the wartime events that would doom his mother to her self-destruction. With a hushed, ever-restrained narration, McCready delivers a shattering listening experience.
Mark Slouka’s novel begins with the child of Czech immigrants to the US, now living in New York, who has been brought up on the folklore of his parents’ homeland. As an adult he becomes aware that he has no knowledge of his parents during the Nazi occupation of Prague. He makes a journey back to Czechoslovakia and it is only then that he discovers their part in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the notorious ‘butcher of Prague’ and begins to understand his mother Ivana’s unhappiness.
Intertwined with this gripping history is a passionate love story, the tragic consequences of which transcend both years and continents.
Glen McCready was an ideal narrator for this factually based story of heroes and others in Czechoslovakia in World War II. The novel presents a young man, trying to understand his parents' relationship and their possible support for the Resistance in World War II. There is an ominous, almost menacing tone to McCready's narration, as the young man gets closer to his parents' history. Among the livelier scenes were those from the protagonist's boyhood in the US, surrounded by emigres from the postwar Czech world, so many trying to understand what had happened to their lost world. But there is a heaviness, too, as the book confronts the horrors of the war and the suffering of these sometimes sentimental emigres. Very well written and read.
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