A long, long time ago a dedicated and hardworking young man by the name of Pigeon is breath-taken by Anielica Hetmanski, the most beautiful girl in Half-Village. Anielica and Pigeon’s story begins in Half-Village, Poland, before World War II where Pigeon uses his ‘golden hands’ to transform the Hetmanski’s hut into a stunning home, hoping to win the approval of Anielica’s father. The love story surrounding Anielica and Pigeon is almost like a fairytale but unfortunately World War II begins, the Germans invade Poland and life as all of Half-Village knew it will never be the same again.
Nearly 50 years later Anielica and Pigeon’s granddaughter, Beata, is living with her aunt Irena and cousin Magda in Krakow, both of which are quite entertaining and bull-headed. Beata seems quite happy to live her life with no immediate direction or future plans but a clarinet player may make her question this way of living. Full of its own ups and downs, Beata’s story is also about life changing events.
A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True is two stories in one, one of Old Poland and one of New Poland. Both stories are told at the same time, with each chapter change you skip from Old to New Poland. Old Poland has a dreamlike feeling about it, whereas New Poland definitely has the feeling of reality. Both stories go through hardships, good times, bad times and soul searching. Even though the stories are set in different times they are still similar in many aspects, often going through similar situations and learning similar lessons. Both are a story of survival and love.
Brigid Pasulka’s debut novel is good start into the literary world. I think I liked both stories equally. I felt for all characters, I wanted to see them happy and hoped for a good ending for everyone. I thought the two stories meshed well together. I was never confused about where I was up to and each chapter went for just the right length as I did not forget what I had read previously or wish the current chapter to be over.
Loved the fairytale feel for the Old Poland story (A Long, Long Time Ago) contrasted with the reality of the New Poland story (Essentially True), the title of the book certainly fits a combination of both stories. I also must add I thought the cover was cute and now thinking about it there were some pretty serious things going on in this book and the cover certainly did not give that away. Overall a good read.
Many thanks to Mary Van Akin from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with a copy of A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True to read and review. Thank you, Mary!
To read the blurb for A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True click here