By H.W. Freedman
Reviewed by Angie Mangino
Rating: 4 stars
From the Bohemian border with Bavaria, West Germany in 1948, to Rome, and on to Greenwich Village in New York City until 1968, readers follow Vaclav from the age of 15 to 35.
Vaclav and Irena fled the communist regime of Czechoslovakia in 1948. As the two young people ran for freedom, Irena falls after being shot, and begs him to leave her to save himself. He does, but his guilt for listening to her keeps her eye on him throughout the years.
Freedman alternates the chapters of this book from past to the recent last two years, until the last five chapters propel the story to conclusion in the present day 1968. This technique in writing always holds the danger of confusing readers, but the writing here is done expertly, keeping readers caught into both stories of past and present.
This reviewer believes the gradual sharing of the past, while following recent events, adds a level of depth that strengthens the story. Readers may not always like Vaclav’s actions, but this depth holds interest in him, which explains many of his not so likeable choices, keeping them compelled to see how he would fare next.