A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True
By Brigid Pasulka
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780547055077, 368pp.)
Publication Date: August 1, 2009
List Price: $25.00*
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On the eve of World War II, in a place called Half-Village, a young man nicknamed the Pigeon falls in love with a girl fabled for her angelic looks. To court Anielica Hetmanská he offers up his "golden hands" to transform her family’s modest hut into a beautiful home, thereby building his way into her heart. Then war arrives to cut short their courtship, delay their marriage, and wreak havoc in all their lives, even sending the young lovers far from home to the promise of a new life in Kraków.
Nearly fifty years later, their granddaughter, Beata, repeats their postwar journey, seeking a new life in the fairy-tale city of her grandmother’s stories. But when she arrives in Kraków, instead of the whispered prosperity of the New Poland, she discovers a city caught between its future and its past, and full of frustrated youths. Taken in by her toughtalking cousin Irena and Irena’s glamorous daughter Magda, Beata struggles to find her own place in 1990s Kraków and in the constellation of Irena and Magda’s fierce love. But unexpected events-- tragedies and miracles-- can change lives and open eyes. And Beata may just find a new way of seeing her family's and her country's history-- as well as a vision for her own role in the New Poland. Whimsical, wise, beautiful, magical, and sometimes even heartbreaking, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True weaves together two remarkable stories, reimagining half a century of Polish history through the legacy of one unforgettable love affair.
BRIGID PASULKA, the descendant of Polish immigrants, first arrived in Krak�w in the early nineties, with no contacts, no knowledge of the language, and only a vague idea of Polish culture. She quickly fell in love with the place, learned Polish, and decided to live there for one year. She now teaches English at a Chicago high school.