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Valeria's Last Stand: A Novel by [Fitten, Marc]
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Valeria's Last Stand: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Length: 276 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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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: 931 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (September 5, 2010)
  • Publication Date: September 5, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FN0ULW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,333 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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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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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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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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