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.
I’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.