November 2017

This month we read the book Three Faces of an Angel written by Czech writer Jiří Pehe. Pehe was born in 1955, in Bohemia, where his father was stationed as a soldier in the Czechoslovak Army. He spent his teenage years visiting an Uncle in Prague, reading a collection of writing from before the 1968 Prague Spring. As a refugee in the 1980s he travelled to America, subsequently completed a Master’s Degree in International Affairs and after returning to the Czech Republic, he became President Havel’s chief political advisor.

Although apparently fiction, this novel presents a political stance, just as in Pehe’s other published writings. The first section provides a never-sent letter from a young man to his mother who abandoned him. She is Czech and his absent father is German. With the backdrop of the First World War, he becomes an accomplished violinist who suffers as a soldier, fathers a child, and returns to marry a Jewish woman with whom he has two children. When she dies again giving birth, he commits suicide.

The second section is narrated by his daughter who is in an asylum. She recalls her childhood during World War II with the fear of the Gestapo. This has impacted on her sanity and she writes a journal telling of the loss of her lover and fearing the prospects for her young son. Her suicide completes the section.
The third section (the weakest) is the 2001 story of this son, who leaves America and its narcissism and triviality to return to Prague. Family members, previously unknown, appear and he needs to make decision about his future. All the narrators of each generation have had visitations from Ariel, an angel of doom, who guides them in decision making. The time and place in the last page of the book can leave no doubt the final decision made by this young man – once again a victim of war.
Pehe’s laboured didactic tone, particularly in the final section, was a disadvantage. Themes of postmodernism and existentialism were very evident in the impelling stories of the first two sections, and made this book definitely worth a reading it.

Ratings: Alexa 3.5, Claudia 3.5, Denise 2.5, Gail 3, Janet 2.5, Judith 2.5, Margie 3, Nicola 2.5 and Viv 3.5.

Next month we get together on the  11/12/17 at 6:30pm at Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops) to discuss Clinch by Swedish writer Martin Holmén. This concludes our year of European novels in translation. Hope to see you there and Happy Reading!

 

About Us

We are a group that gets together once a month to discuss good books. Each of us gets to choose a book on a rotational basis, preferably one outside our personal comfort zone – we try to keep the trash to ourselves. After the discussion, we comment on other books we read that month. Most of the time we remain friends after the meeting.

Preece HouseWe meet at the 1948 heritage Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops) on the second Monday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. excluding Public Holidays. A small contribution is required towards the rent of the room, but not if you are a first timer. The amount depends on the number of people attending.
One book title is chosen each month and we all read that book. There is a ‘host’ who introduces and co-ordinates the discussion. The role of host is rotated around the group so that each member has the opportunity to nominate their book (it could also be an author, theme or genre). The host also acts as chairperson for that meeting.
Although we are not a social club (we are readers), we occasionally attend literary events, relevant movies or plays here at the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Byron Bay. We conform to basic meeting practices and everyone has an equal opportunity to express their opinion. Everyone’s interpretation is valid, as long as it’s expressed respectfully.
We welcome any new members who share our aims and are happy to contribute to our group. Newcomers are not required to have read the book to attend the first meeting and no contribution is required from them.
Feel free to have a look at our Booklist for 2017 and 2018 and Newsletters in the sidebar. If you are reading this blog in a mobile device, switch to desktop view.

CONTACT DETAILS

We meet from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on the 2nd Monday of every month at the heritage listed Preece House located at Bischoff Park, Nerang Street (next corner White St), Nerang next door to shops at 54 Nerang Street. Please contact us for info on meetings that fall on Public Holidays.
For more information use the contact form.

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