A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009 - Fiction - 354 pages
4 Reviews
On the eve of World War II, in a place called Half-Village, a young man nicknamed the Pigeon falls in love with a girl fabled for her angelic looks. To court Anielica Hetmanská he offers up his "golden hands" to transform her family’s modest hut into a beautiful home, thereby building his way into her heart.   Then war arrives to cut short their courtship, delay their marriage, and wreak havoc in all their lives, even sending the young lovers far from home to the promise of a new life in Kraków.
Nearly fifty years later, their granddaughter, Beata, repeats their postwar journey, seeking a new life in the fairy-tale city of her grandmother’s stories. But when she arrives in Kraków, instead of the whispered prosperity of the New Poland, she discovers a city caught between its future and its past, and full of frustrated youths. Taken in by her toughtalking cousin Irena and Irena’s glamorous daughter Magda, Beata struggles to find her own place in 1990s Kraków and in the constellation of Irena and Magda’s fierce love. But unexpected events-- tragedies and miracles-- can change lives and open eyes. And Beata may just find a new way of seeing her family's and her country's history-- as well as a vision for her own role in the New Poland.   Whimsical, wise, beautiful, magical, and sometimes even heartbreaking, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True weaves together two remarkable stories, reimagining half a century of Polish history through the legacy of one unforgettable love affair.

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This is an wickedly good read!! I loved it and I read, maybe 10 books a year. I wish I hadn't finished it so I could read it again. Your in for a great story. -Phil

Review: A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True

User Review  - Allison - Goodreads

I cried at the end of this book. It was just beautiful. In the beginning I struggled a little because the Polish names and words are so difficult and it became very obvious how little I know about the ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

BRIGID PASULKA, the descendant of Polish immigrants, first arrived in Kraków in the early nineties, with no contacts, no knowledge of the language, and only a vague idea of Polish culture. She quickly fell in love with the place, learned Polish, and decided to live there for one year. She currently teaches English at a magnet high school in her native Chicago, and is still a frequent visitor to Kraków. An award-winning short story writer, this is her first novel.

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