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Valeria's Last Stand [Kindle Edition]

Marc Fitten
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Don't miss Marc Fitten's newest book, Elza's Kitchen, available in July, 2012. When it comes to the sizes of fishes and ponds, Valeria is a whale in a thimble. She harrumphs her daily way through her backwater Hungarian village, finding equal fault with the new, the old, the foreign and the familiar. Her decades of universal contempt have turned her into a touchstone of her little community - whatever she scorns the least must be the best, after all. But, on a day like any other, her spinster's heart is struck by an unlikely arrow: the village potter, long-known and little-noticed, captures her fancy, and Valeria finds herself suddenly cast in a new role she never expected to play. This one deviation from character, this one loose thread, is all it takes for the delicately woven fabric of village life to unravel. And, for the first time in a long time, Valeria couldn't care less. Valeria's Last Stand is a joyfully wise small-town satire that takes an hilariously honest look at later-in-life romance and the notion that it's never too late to start anew.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, May 2009: Set in the fictional town of Zivatar (by all appearances, a sleepy Hungarian village of the post-Communist era that time--and capitalism--forgot), Valeria's Last Stand is full of the kind of colorful, Chaucerian characters you'd expect to find in a fable. There's Ibolya, the bawdy, hot-tempered tavern owner who taunts patrons with her ample bosom and cheap beer; a greedy, glad-handing mayor, desperate for rich foreign investors to put the town on the map; and there's even a trickster in the form of a chimney sweep, a misanthropic scoundrel who arrives just in time to bring a brewing scandal to full-tilt. At the center of it all is Valeria, a feisty spinster who thrives on her neighbors' scorn until the day she finds herself unexpectedly smitten with the local potter. Theirs is a tempestuous attraction, igniting a vicious rumor mill that reveals--with no shortage of humor or wisdom--the pride and prejudice plaguing the town. As in any fable, there's a lesson to be learned here, but there's nothing heavy-handed about it: Marc Fitten deftly warms these characters to the notion that change, though inevitable, can do them good. --Anne Bartholomew

From Publishers Weekly

Life in an isolated Hungarian village is turned upside down by an unusual love affair in Fitten's promising debut. In the small hamlet of Zivatar, 68-year-old Valeria is known by all as a cantankerous woman, quick to criticize everything from the produce at the market to the mayor's lofty ambitions to lure foreign investors to the town. But a chance encounter one day with the elderly local potter—a man Valeria has known for years but never noticed—changes everything. The widower potter falls just as hard for Valeria, despite his relationship with Ibolya, the owner of the village's only tavern. Unaccustomed to being smitten, Valeria tries to maintain her normal routine, but the village is in an uproar over this unlikely love triangle. The arrival of a traveling chimney sweep intent on bilking the townspeople sends another ripple through what was once a placid village. Fitten is not always successful in balancing character development with the larger themes of power and progress, but the irascible Valeria makes such a unique heroine that readers may be willing to overlook the story's less fluid elements. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 513 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408801345
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (September 5, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FN0ULW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,275 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Surprise March 1, 2009
By S.B.
This is a light hearted love story with an unexpected romantic couple. Valeria is a 68 year old spinster living in the Hungarian town of Zivatar. Valeria suffered heartbreak as a young woman and has since become the crotchety town hag. She finds love again with the town potter, but he is involved with the pub owner Ibolya. Each member of this strange love triangle fears that this is their last chance at love. Valeria and Ibolya both want the potter and neither will let anyone or anything get in their way.
This is a delightful story written as if it were an Hungarian folk tale. Many characters are unnamed and referred to only by their occupation: the mayor, the potter, etc. Well written and featuring a host of zany characters, I highly recommend this book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Small Town in Hungary February 24, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Set in a small town in Hungary, in what appears to be the late 1990s, this charming debut novel revolves around a senior citizen love triangle. The town's well-liked, white-haired, widower potter has not only taken up with a busty, lusty, and venomous tavern owner, but also falls in bed with a pear-shaped, sourpuss spinster (the Valeria of the title). For a town so far off the beaten track that both WWII and the 1956 revolution were merely something that happened over the horizon to some other people, the tug-of-war between the tavernista and Valeria ranks as a major showdown. It's not for nothing that the town is named Zivatar -- the word means "thunderstorm" in Hungarian, which is emblematic of the chaos that is about to engulf the timeless town.

That chaos comes not only from the battle between the tavernista and Valeria for the exclusive affections of the potter, but also the arrival of an scheming itinerant chimney-sweep. Meanwhile, another subplot concerns the mayor's scheme to connect to the town to the national rail system, and thus usher in a new era of connectedness and prosperity. So along with what is a simple, and frequently funny, story of matchmaking is the larger theme of modernity arriving at this little hamlet, where the ability to buy an entire bag of imported oranges is a mark of true wealth and power.

There's nothing particularly deep or grand about any of this, it's a nice little story that reminds the reader that it's never too late for love, and that thoughtlessness in affairs of the heart (or body) carries consequences.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zivatar, next 3 exits March 29, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In this astonishing, brilliant first novel, the author creates a village peopled by vivid and unforgettable characters. Although it's set in Hungary in the 1990s, in a place bypassed by history and set in its ways, the book makes it all seem familiar, warm, and entirely believable. Simply stated, after a lifetime of mundane work and gossip, the town potter and the village hag fall in love, and Zivatar is never the same after that. Even the coming of the railroad and of EU-era progress seems of less import.

That this is from a young American author is even more remarkable. Nothing rings false or out of synch in his village, particularly a village that no passing army, in over a century of tumultuous history over the horizon, thought Zivatar worth sacking or even notice. His characters seem likeable in their own irritating ways and they interact in a story that, in its quirky way, goes from grumpy beginnings to hilarious complications and a wild denouement. If this is indeed the start of trilogy then those will be worth looking forward to. Certainly, this book stands on its own as a delightful and well-crafted story.

Highly recommend.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Delightful February 7, 2009
By LaLoren
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found Valeria's Last Stand by Marc Fitten an absolutely delightful surprise. This light-hearted story of a Hungarian town moving into the 21st century when it had barely come to terms with the 20th was a joy to read.

The term light-hearted should not be confused with "light" as in insignificant or throw-away. While centered on Valeria, a once-jilted older woman who never allowed herself to enjoy life, this is really the story of the town whose people, in the aggregate, form a separate character. The town has been pretty much bypassed or as the author puts it, "ignored," by history--no bombings during WWII, no tanks rolling over them after the 1956 Revolution, Communism being seen wistfully by the older generation as convenience that provided good pensions and security. Now the mayor--once a loyal party member, now an ardent capitalist--is bent on bringing "progress" to the town. He is building a new train station and constantly courting outside investors. While the rest of the town still travels on foot or bicycle, he drives his Mercedes even to travel just down the block.The three main characters--Valeria, The Potter, and Ibolya--all middle-aged or a little beyond--represent the town, teetering on the brink of new possibilities yet hesitant to move forward.

Marc Fenton definitely surprised me. As Editor of the Chattahoochee Review where the stories are often darker and certainly more "literary" in form, I was expecting something different. The surprise was a pleasant one, however, and I highly recommend this book.Valeria's Last Stand: A Novel
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Unnecessarily Crude
The cover caught my eye. I liked the idea of the story and I thought there would be a really heart-warming late-in-life romance involved, but I ended up having too many issues with... Read more
Published 3 months ago by EpicFehlReader
4.0 out of 5 stars About a woman who was destined to be a man’s inspiration and the man...
Valeria, a stern looking 68 y old unattractive woman often called by locals the “old hag” who grows vegetables with a borderline pathological obsession, suddenly finds herself... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Laszlo Hopp
1.0 out of 5 stars Could not get into it. Valeria is so unlikable ...
Could not get into it. Valeria is so unlikable. I didn't finish it.
Published 5 months ago by Rebecca Colgate
3.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
Very disappointed. The plot was very simplistic and everybody was happy in the end. Had to force myself to finish it.
Published 14 months ago by Connie D
4.0 out of 5 stars Valeria's last Stand
This was a very entertaining book, but not necessarily one that I would recommend to others. Valeria was certainly a very colorful character.
Published on November 18, 2012 by Enid J. Michalowski
3.0 out of 5 stars Very odd
Don't know quite who to explain it except " odd" I did finish it and, well did enjoy it. But it was still very odd. Both the writing and the story.
Published on November 10, 2012 by Sueanna
5.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly captivating
Awesome book, it reminds us that we don't have to stop living, no matter our age. It also makes me think of my 80 something year old grandma. She's a little wild, too.
Published on October 21, 2012 by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting characters\
A very different novel from those I have been reading on my Kindle. The characters are so different from the usual romantic couples. Read more
Published on October 12, 2012 by Betsy
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing!
I didn't finish reading the book because I thought that the language was needlessly vulgar. I think it could have been a good story had the dialogue been acceptable.
Published on October 9, 2012 by jpl
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Fascinating
This novel starts out with seemingly simple characters: a shrewish old maid, a slutty bar-owner and an earnest widower. Read more
Published on October 7, 2012 by Victoria L. Bergesen
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More About the Author

Marc Fitten was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Panamanian immigrants and grew up in New York City and Atlanta. His novels have been published in multiple languages and he has also published op-eds in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

During the summers he is a resident faculty member at the Yale Writers Conference at Yale University.

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