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Leslie Pietrzyk's Pears on a Willow Tree starts with a recipe for pierogi and ends with one for poppy-seed cake. In between, four generations of Polish-American women talk, cook, argue, sew each other's wedding dresses, tell stories, and understand and misunderstand each other in the way that only mothers and daughters can. Starting with iron-willed Rose, who emigrates from Poland, and ending with Amy, who flees the role of her alcoholic mother's keeper, the Marchewka women enact an ancient dance of embracing and rejecting the tradition they come from. "It is the girls who keep the family alive," Rose writes to her Polish mother; but it is also true that, as she later tells her great-granddaughter, "It's impossible for a good daughter to leave; it's impossible for a good daughter to stay." Many of the chapters in Pears on a Willow Tree were first published as stories, and they sometimes hang together a trifle too neatly, with none of a novel's usual depth or range. But Pietrzyk has a nifty, uncluttered prose style and above all a keen ear for the way women really do talk. Pears on a Willow Tree is a promising debut from a writer with a gift for the enduring art of domestic portraiture. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A family saga comprising 16 self-contained chapters, each a monologue (or dialogue) featuring one of four women in a prolific Polish-American clan, this compelling debut is an example of the novel-in-stories at its best. In prose as plain and four-square as her protagonists, Pietrzyk traces the family's evolution from 1919 through the late 1980s, from its transplantation to the U.S.?specifically, Detroit?through three generations, showing how the older women (who privately refer to themselves as Marchewskas, after matriarch Rose's maiden name) preserve ethnic traditions and family customs and why their daughters shake them off. Of the 10 women of the Marchewska family, the book focuses upon Rose, her daughter Helen, granddaughter Ginger (the rebel who abandons Detroit and settles in Phoenix) and great-granddaughter Amy. The voices of these four women are quite different?Rose's primal and earthy; Helen's pathetic; Ginger's cool, irreverent, iconoclastic and questioning; Amy's tempered and mature beyond her years. Reading this novel is like leafing through a family photo album (one of Pietrzyk's favored motifs) except that, once you pick up this book, it's hard to put it down.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I learned a great deal from reading the book. It dwells on the lives of four generations of Polish women in America, not a topic I was even vaguely aware of. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Francisca esteve
I read this book slowly because it released many memories from my childhood, being of Polish descent. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mariann J. Hoffman
I loved this book. I bought it as gifts for other women friends. I have looked for other books by this author but haven't found any.Published 12 months ago by Lavender
I didn't know much about the Polish, or Polish-Americans until I read this heart-warming novel. Well written, well paced, I couldn't put it down. I definitely recommend it. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Mary Raynor
The Kindle edition of this book is loaded with typos - so much so that it really affected my enjoyment of the book. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Anonymous
The paradox of women's role of holding family and cultural tradition, and embracing change at the same time. Well described by this author.Published on April 4, 2013 by P. Berent
The stories concern the grandmothers, mothers, aunts, daughters, sisters and cousins from the same family. Read morePublished on February 3, 2012 by Judith Miller
I hated to see this novel end! (Though the ending was perfect).
Pietrzyk's novel is a series of interrelated short stories, reading almost like diary entries or brief... Read more
I haven't had the time to get started on this book yet, tho very much looking forward to it. Book is in good condition.Published on June 30, 2010 by Hope Salais