The new novel by leading Czech writer Ivan Klima, No Saints or Angels is set in contemporary Prague. It spans three generations, taking in Second Word War, Communist and Post Communist times. Kristyna, a forty-five year old dentist, lives in Prague with her unruly sixteen-year-old daughter, Jana. Born on one of the most momentous days of the last ...
The new novel by leading Czech writer Ivan Klima, No Saints or Angels is set in contemporary Prague. It spans three generations, taking in Second Word War, Communist and Post Communist times. Kristyna, a forty-five year old dentist, lives in Prague with her unruly sixteen-year-old daughter, Jana. Born on one of the most momentous days of the last century, the day Stalin died, Kristyna's life seems full of uncertainties. Stories of the death of her grandmother and aunt; memories of her difficult relationship with her late father, a member of the Communist party's feared People's Militia; and strange, threatening letters from an anonymous correspondent all serve to compound her sense of unease. During the summer of 1998 she embarks on a relationship with Jan Honza, a thirty-year-old former student of her ex-husband's. Honza's father, a scout-leader, was persecuted by the Communists during the 1950s; his son is now employed by the government to investigate the crimes of the post-war regime. However, not all are happy with their discoveries and his department comes under increasing pressure from the government to disband. Meanwhile, Jana's increasingly erratic behaviour betrays her growing addiction to drugs and her mother is forced to take drastic action in an attempt to change the course of her life. Told with great poise and affection, No Saints or Angels is a profoundly moving exploration of the importance of mutual acceptance and understanding. And the ability to accept life as it is.
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-09-17 Klima, internationally acclaimed author of a substantial body of work (Love and Garbage; Lovers for a Day; etc.), deconstructs a contemporary Czech family in his latest effort. Kristina, a divorced mother in her 40s, works as a dentist in Prague. Burdened with responsibilities, she is the sole caregiver for her aging, widowed mother; her terminally ill ex-husband; and her 15-year-old daughter, Jana, who may or may not be using hard drugs. Lonely and starved for affection, Kristina begins dating Jan, a former student of her ex-husband and her junior by 15 years. While she tries to use the romance and morning glasses of wine to erase mounting concerns, Kristina is unable to overcome her own unsentimental perceptions. "I'm no Isadora Duncan," she reflects, thinking of the famous dancer and her much younger paramour, the Russian poet Yesenin. "I'm not famous, I'm simply as old as she was and know how to fix people's teeth. My lover is no poet and I'm sure he won't kill himself; he enjoys life and enjoys playing games." While most of the story is told through Kristina's eyes, Klima periodically shifts the narrative to Jana's and Jan's point of view, channeling common incidents through the eyes of three different generations. Although philosophical musings weigh heavily on the action on occasion, this compelling, bleak story is worthy of Kl!ma's growing acclaim. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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