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The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme Paperback – Import, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: SCEPTRE; New Ed edition (2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034083126X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340831267
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,729,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Lonya VINE VOICE on January 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
. . . Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power to chasten and subdue." The graceful, elegant, yet ineffably somber prose of Andrei Makine calls to mind this passage by Wordsworth. The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme, Andrei Makine's latest work is neither harsh nor grating. Makine's prose plays like the dark-toned music of the lives of the narrators and its principal characters.

The story of Andrei Makine is a compelling one. Makine, for those not familiar with his work, was born in the Soviet Union in 1958. He emigrated to France as a young man and immediately assumed the role of a struggling writer. Written in French (Makine learned French as a student in the USSR) his manuscripts were rejected by every publisher in Paris. He spent many nights sleeping in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Finally, out of desperation, he told one publisher that the manuscript of his first book was a translation from the Russian. It was immediately accepted for publication.

Earth and Sky represents the third-volume of a loosely-structured trilogy. The first volume, Dreams of My Russian Summers won two of France's most esteemed literary prizes, the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Medicis. The second volume, Requiem for a Lost Empire was also well received. All of these books have been remarkably well translated by Geoffrey Strachan. Although Earth and Sky can be enjoyed in its own right, reading Dreams of My Russian Summers (not necessarily Requiem for a Lost Empire) first would enhance the reader's enjoyment of this work.

Earth and Sky consists of three separate but connected story lines over three generations. It begins with a love story. Jacques Dorme, a French pilot was a German prisoner of war.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Andrei Makine delivers every time. This short, yet eventful novel is another take on the narrator's (author's) childhood that differs in detail but not in substance from Dreams of My Russian Summers. It is amazing what the author manages to include in so few pages, traveling in time from WWII to his his life in France. Neither communist Russia nor contemporary France fare well in Makine's descriptions.
Alexandra is another Charlotte, who has a story of love and woe to tell. The narrator is a young boy living in an orphanage, as his parents were "liquidated" in soviet purges. On his weekend visits to Alexandra, he learns both French and a lot of personalized Russian history from this woman, who, years later, still mourns her lover, the French pilot Jacques Dorme who fought in Russia during WWII and perished somewhere in the depths of frozen Siberia.
Back in France, the narrator talks with disgust about the suburbia that are really no longer populated by people who follow the rules of decent behavior or of French grammar. The novel is very lyrical and very nostalgic, while being critical of both the worlds that Makine inhabits. A fantastic read by an author who deserves every prize he receives.
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Format: Hardcover
Writers are often asked how autobiographical their works are. AM answers this question occasionally in this rich novel. It is the love story of Alexandra, a young French widow who has lived half her life in the Soviet Union and Jacques Dorme (JD), a leftist French pilot amidst aerial bombardments and general carnage and mayhem near Stalingrad in May 1942. Their passionate affair in a war-damaged cottage near a busy intersection for trains moving the wounded, fresh armaments and fuel tankers in different directions, lasts little more than a week. Then the French pilot is ordered to the Soviet Far East to partake in a secret operation to fly newly-made US aircraft (types provided) from Alaska to Siberia; in another novel AM notes that the US also critically supported the SU with tanks and other key hardware via the port of Murmansk. Anyway, JD flew some 300 planes (out of 8.000) in on 5.000 km trips more dangerous than combating Germany in the air. JD promised Alexandra to one day show her the house where he was born, near Roubaix in northern France...

Alas, JD crashed his plane into a mountain crest in NW Siberia. The complete story is told by a Russian orphan. In the 1960s he is allowed to spend weekends with `Aunt' Alexandra who knew his deceased parents. From her and from the remains of books found in a burnt-out top floor room, he learns to read, understand and speak French. When he is 13, she tells him about the 8 or 9 days with JD and the story stays with him forever. Decades later, as a stateless refugee in France, he mounts a clandestine, physically brutal campaign to see the spot where Dorme came down. Later, the orphan/author makes two dramatic journeys to the younger brother living in JD's house of birth, a visit Alexandra was promised so long ago.
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Format: Hardcover
This beautiful little book is hard to categorise; part orphanage memoir, part war fable, part romance novel. Vignettes of life in Stalinist and post-USSR Russia and the Second World War exploits of a French pilot are woven together by the thread of a battlefield romance. The narrator recollects his childhood in a Russian orphanage and his relationship with an elderly French nurse who teaches him her native tongue and opens his eyes to the world of books and language. She also tells of her romance with the pilot. As an adult, the narrator returns from France to trek to the Siberian mountains in search of the wreck of the plane in which the pilot died. It's a strange fable of cultural alienation that is painfully romantic and ultimately deeply moving. A very special book.
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