A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True - Brigid Pasulka The content of this novel focuses on life in Krakow, Poland, during and after WW2, through to the period when communism was finally overthrown. Life during the war was difficult, but so was the time after. The central issue of this novel, as of so many others, is not anti-Semitism. The time period covers the tumult of events after the war, Stalinism, Communism, corruption, but the main focus was on the personal lives of struggling individuals. I should have been pulled me in more than I was. Perhaps the prime audience of this novel is set for a younger age group.

I did not enjoy the book. It was merely OK. The chapters flip between two different time periods – during the war and twenty/thirty years later. They do eventually meet up. How the two stories are related slowly becomes clear, but for many pages I did not even understand that the time periods were different, I did not know who the different characters were. Very, very slowly the relationships between the people are revealed. I spent much of my time working to understand who was who. Rather than pondering the life conditions in Krakow, I worked to understand the essentials of the novel that could have been more clearly set out.

There is no glossary in my book. There are many Polish terms that I could not figure out.

The modern thread, centers upon the life of young adults, by which I mean those in their late teens and early twenties. Events concerning sex, drugs and drinking play a central role. Finding your own niche in life is another dominant theme. Such a focus was not what I was looking for. It will most probably fit others.

And the writing style? It was fine but nothing special either. Neither was the humour to my taste. I can only give this book two stars.