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Hela: A Novel of Science, Faith, Love and Poland Kindle Edition
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|Length: 400 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
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The unlikely heroine, Helena Pytlak, unemployed, overweight and single at 57 becomes a subject of cutting edge medical research, which takes her on a series of surprising adventures. As the plot unfolds, you find the book to be part Sci-Fi, part medical thriller, part journey of self-discovery and action drama with quite a few twists and turns, all the way to a satisfying ending.
What drew me into the book first though was how real the character of Hela (as well as the ‘supporting cast’) was. Fiction or not, for me the necessary ingredient of any good book is that the personalities presented are believable. And believable she is, starting with the painfully relatable awkwardness with which she interacts with people around her and the entire foreign world she finds herself in. Her world view, formed by a uniquely Polish mix of deep Catholicism and Communist schooling, is completely at odds with the contemporary world of advanced technology and cutthroat competition. Leave it to a Polish lady to have enough spunk and resolve to meet the challenges head on, despite of her considerable inhibitions and the occasional moment of weakness - especially when a certain suave and absolutely crush-worthy doctor is involved.
What can I tell you? Poles are a study in contradiction and the book captures that in a great and humorous way. Reading the book for the second time I could fully appreciate (and savor) the snapshots of Polish history and culture starting with a sprawling estate of former Polish nobility, where the first part of the book is set, through flashbacks to idyllic country living of Hela’s childhood and the unique atmosphere of ‘workers vacations’, one of the ‘perks’ of Socialism, perfectly pictured in the social interactions at the retreat.
Overall, from this fun read you might learn a little bit about what makes Poles Poles, as anybody who visited Poland or lived there can attest. The world, bits of history and the people shown are real, even if the book is entertaining fiction.