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A Partisan's Daughter Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 7, 2008

3.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

De Bernières (Corelli's Mandolin) delivers an oddball love story of two spiritually displaced would-be lovers. During a dreary late 1970s London winter, stolid and discontented Chris is drawn to seedy and mysterious Roza, a Yugoslav émigrée he initially believes is a prostitute. She isn't (though she claims to have been), and soon the two embark on an awkward friendship (Chris would like to imagine it as a romance) in which Roza spins her life's stories for her nondescript, erstwhile suitor. Roza, whose father supported Tito, moved to London for opportunity but instead found a school of hard knocks, and she's all too happy to dole out the lessons she learned to the slavering Chris. The questions of whether Roza will fall for Chris and whether Chris will leave his wife (he calls her the Great White Loaf) carry the reader along, as the reliability of Chris and Roza, who trade off narration duties, is called into question—sometimes to less than ideal effect. The conclusion is crushing, and Chris's scorching regret burns brightly to the last line. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Though it treads little new ground, this lingering account of a tortured love affair—"a [gripping] study in frustration, both sexual and romantic" (London Times)—also meditates on the art and power of storytelling and the myths of East versus West. However, critics observed that de Berni√®res spends a great deal of time on Roza's Yugoslavian yarns, which are largely irrelevant to the plot, and not enough on Chris and Roza. They also found fault with these relatively unsympathetic characters: several dismissed the exotic Roza as a stereotype; some considered Chris a colorless Everyman; and others a perverted, "self-pitying creep" (Telegraph). While A Partisan's Daughter fails to measure up to the much-loved Corelli's Mandolin, this unsettling novel will entertain de Berni√®res fans who don't expect a repeat performance.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030726887X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307268877
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,963,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have always been a big fan of Louis de Bernieres, and I am happy to say this newest book doesn't disappoint. Note that this is a quick read - you can easily read it in one sitting.

Summary, no spoilers.

This story is told in short chapters, narrated by the two main characters - Chris, a lonely man who lives with a passionless wife he calls The "Great White Loaf", and by Roza, a young woman he meets on the street and propositions, under the mistaken belief that she was working as a prostitute. Well, she wasn't. At least not at that time.

This unlikely couple end up meeting and having regular talks at Roza's dilapidated home, where she tells him stories about her life. We wonder if Roza is an unreliable narrator, but we want to believe her, and so does Chris. Her stories charm Chris, so much so that he begins to fall for Roza, and he craves her company and fantasizes about making her his lover. He is falling in love with her, and she seems to be caring for him, too, despite her tales getting wilder and more sordid.

No spoilers - but we know early on that these characters do not end up together, and that this is the cause of quite a bit of regret. By the end of the book, we find out why, and what happened.

I enjoyed the book a great deal. It can be very funny at times, and yet there are also some horrendous things that happen, in particular to young Roza as a young girl. This story tells us something about lost opportunities, and about living life to the fullest.

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Format: Paperback
I have read all of Louis de Bernieres books, but I think he wrote this one because he was short of money. Compared to "Birds without Wings", e.g. this is not up to his usual standard.
A man, unhappy in his marriage, listens to the stories of a Serbian woman and becomes more and more enchanted with her. We don't know if these stories are real or if she makes them up in order to show, or satisfy a craving for an exciting past.
In any case, he believes her. I found it rather tedious and even the few shocking bits came across as "oh well, what else is new?"
Not one of my favorite Bernieres.
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Format: Paperback
Chris is like millions of middle-aged men. Stuck in a loveless marriage, he is frustrated at the thought that this might be all there is to his life. One night, while on the way home, he sees a streetwalker and impulsively, stops and tries to hire her. He is instantly filled with regret when the woman is insulted that he thought she was a prostitute. She then tells him that he can take her home to make up for it, and he does. As she leaves his car, she tells him that he seems a nice man and that he should come by sometime for coffee. Then she off-handedly mentions, "When I was bad girl I never took less than five hundred. I don't do cheap."

Thus starts the relationship between Chris and Roza. Roza is a young Yugoslavian woman who is in England illegally. Chris does stop by her apartment and she becomes a modern-day Scheherazade, full of exotic stories that have made up her life. Each story reveals more and more of her character and needs. Chris is entranced, both by Roza personally and by the stories she tells. He is shown a side of life he'd never seen as he realizes that while he wants more adventure in his life, he is actually unlikely to pursue it if it means leaving his comfortable, boring life. "I wouldn't want to be a partisan unless I got weekends off and missions were optional."

Roza's stories revolve around men in her life, starting with her father. He fought for various factions in Yugoslavia as a partisan, and lived his life afterwards extolling the strength and honor of men like him who were willing to sacrifice everything for the land and lives they loved. Then there is her first love, met when she attended college. After that, she met a man who brought her to England and she lived with him for a while, then slowly drifted away when she got bored.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not exactly sure what to make of this book - like other reviewers said, to me it mainly seemed meaningless! It was a very frustrating read, and an unrewarding one. Maybe I'm just missing the point, but I think that might be because, if there is one, the point is buried under a story that is much too convoluted and long.
The other thing that really bothered me was Roza's discontinuity. I know we're supposed to be very skeptical of her, but more than that I was skeptical the author's portrayal of her - it seemed to me that Roza, as a character, kept shifting, and not in a good way. Her first-person narrative sometimes differed from what she told Chris, and this made plenty of sense. But then, it seems that not only do we have to distrust everything she said to Chris, but also everything she says to us. I mean, was she a prostitute or wasn't she? She tells it to us both ways. In the beginning, the prostitution was a lie meant to shock Chris, in the ending she narrates (to us, not Chris) her life of sex for money in a totally convincing, emotional way - and I don't know what to make of that. Why should I care about a character that doesn't seem to actually exist? There isn't even enough of a "real" Roza on the page for me to buy "Roza the lier" - I don't buy her existence at all. Chris was interesting but his role was quite small, so I felt invested in neither of them, and I think that is probably the reason that this book was, for me, so very boring.
I think I only finished it because I got strung along on the quality of the writing. The writing was enough to get me really excited about this book... but never for longer than 15 minutes, and pretty soon it was just a drag to the last page while I was asking myself why didn't I just give it up. Maybe it was the lack of characterization, maybe that there wasn't really much of a story? In any case, I do not recommend this book.
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