A Partisan’s Daughter by ,

7 December 2008


ISBN: 9781846551420

I am not the sort of man who goes to prostitutes.
Well, I suppose that every man would say that. People would disbelieve it just because you felt you have to say it.

Image of A Partisan's DaughterI’m quite a fan of de Bernieres’ works. I haven’t read them all but I have enjoyed the ones I’ve read. The two narrators of this book take turns in telling their shared story. One chapter will be Chris, the next is Roza’s. Chris is in his forties, a respectable, married man, a travelling salesman who seems quite distant from life in general. Roza is younger, in her twenties, an illegal immigrant from Yugoslavia.

Despite the fact that both characters narrate parts of this novel, it seemed to me that Chris is the central character. Roza rarely shares how she feels, or what exactly she is thinking. Oh she lets the reader know how she sees Chris, and lets little hints drop here and there, but we never really know her. Neither does Chris, I suppose, and all those stories that she tells, of her past. Growing up in Yugoslavia as the daughter of a partisan, of her first love, of coming to England, working in a club, we’re never sure if any of them are true.

And yet the book is called A Partisan’s Daughter. But it is more about the effect she has on Chris. To be honest, while he seems a decent enough chap, Chris isn’t the most entertaining of characters, nor is he the nicest. He is bored with his wife, calling her frigid and giving her the nickname The Great White Loaf. But he is so self-obsessed that we don’t ever find out anything more about her. If Roza’s stories are made up then maybe so too are Chris’s.

Hmmm. I hadn’t thought of that while reading the book…

Like all de Bernieres’ novels this is a really well told novel. It is so easy to read that you almost don’t realise that you are suddenly almost finished it. And I think I even spotted a nod back to Birds Without Wings with mention of some of its characters. But overall I just wasn’t all that impressed by this read. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t be rushing off to recommend it.

And I didn’t like the ending.

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2 Responses

  1. jean pierre says:

    this sounds a bit weird, fencey. not weird is in out there, but, you know, who is this girl? and whats up with this guy? he sounds like an ass and she sounds invisible.

    and the ending was poo.

    what is nice about the book? is it de bernieres' prose? not that i'm saying a book with the above mentioned qualities can't be fun to read. but you know… quo?

    i know fans of him are devout followers and they all simply say that i have to read him to understand.

  2. Fence says:

    This isn't on of de Bernieres' that I would recommend non-fans to read JP. It isn't his best, but the writing, the prose, really does keep you reading. And the stories that Roza tells really do entertain.

    Other people liked the ending, so I wouldn't go so far as too say it was poo :) It just didn't sit well with me. Although I do get why it ended like that. I suppose to have had the *truth* from Roza would have undermined her as a character. Would have undermined her story, because although the reader might doubt aspects of it and wonder about its actual facts I think most would read her story as being, I don't know the term, emotionally true, if that makes sense?

    If you were thinking of picking up one by him I'd certainly go for Capt. Corelli. Ignore the film version, it was rubbish. The book is lovely and wonderful and brilliant.