A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
Published by Mariner Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Poland is on the verge of Nazi occupation, but in Half-Village all Pigeon can concentrate on is the beautiful Anielica. In order to set himself apart from other potential suitors, Pigeon decides to help Anielica’s family repair and upgrade their house. It is in this way, by his constant presence, that Pigeon wins his beloved’s heart, slowly and quietly. Unfortunately, with the advent of World War II, their village life is disrupted enough that it is quite some time before they are able to marry.
Some fifty years later, their granddaughter Beata attempts to navigate life in Krakow, part of the “New Poland.” In Beata’s experience, however, New Poland does not always work so much differently than when the country was still under the yoke of Communism.
Pigeon and Anielica’s story is absolutely charming. There is a fairy tale air to the whole thing, Nazis notwithstanding. Beata’s storyline was a tougher sell for me. She seems somewhat disaffected by life in Krakow and I wanted to know more about life back in the village with her grandmother. For quite some time I was wishing that Pasulka had simply stuck with Pigeon and Anielica, but Beata’s story builds in a way that makes it worth the effort that the reader puts into it.
A Long Long Time Ago & Essentially True is a worthwhile read. Recommended.
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