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Necessary Lies, which won the Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award, tackles an intriguingly volatile period of repression, recrimination, and reconciliation in central and eastern Europe (and in Canada's separatist Quebec as well). Stachniak is a lucid lecturer who deftly makes fiction from events that have been fodder for recent travel literature, such as Eva Hoffman's Exit into History: A Journey Through the New Eastern Europe and Irena Karafilly's Ashes and Miracles: A Polish Journey. Stachniak's strength as a writer lies in her skill in invoking place--its sights and smells and energy--and in juxtaposing a city's present with its complex past. Like an archaeologist or archivist, she delves into the layers of history to reveal the collective source of personal tragedy.
But these strengths ultimately prove to be the novel's shortcoming as a work of fiction. Stachniak has a faintly irritating tendency (right from page 1) to engage in irresolvable arguments about whether Poland is part of central or eastern Europe. More significantly, she fails to render psychologically compelling characters, despite the potentially fascinating figures she draws upon. Furthermore, central confrontation scenes with Anna's Polish ex-husband and her second husband's longtime German lover miss the opportunity to sound the depths of betrayal. How unsatisfactory for the reader when the collision of two world views gets reduced to the banality of a co-owned apartment buyout. --Diana Kuprel
For those who like to read about how wars can create tragedies, not only in the lives of people who lived through them, but also in the lives of the next generations, with the most... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Marie-Reine and Bill Koehler
well written, good observations and interesting charactersPublished 7 months ago by Halina E. Marcinkowski
A captivating story weaving mystery, reality and history into an entertaining story. A little convoluted at times but, generally a good read.Published 14 months ago by Yvan Clermont
the numerous flash backs to the WWII and to the history of Wroclaw are very interesting and informative; Solidarity times and peoples' attitudes are deep analyses that are very... Read morePublished 18 months ago by alicia kray
Not my favorite by this author, but she writes so well, that I haven't read anything of hers that I dislike.Published 19 months ago by Kitty Angell
I enjoy Eva Strahniak's writing. Necessary Lies is a bit of an historical novel - about political times in Poland and Checkoslovakia in the 80's as well as back to Germany during... Read morePublished on September 9, 2012 by JKreader
Thoughtful, moving and fascinating.
A novel set in Wroclaw, one of the cities that became part of Poland after the end of the second world war. Read more