Published April 2011 by Europa Editions
Source: the publisher
When 17-year-old Sulfia Kalganowa tells her mother that she's pregnant and doesn't know who the father is, her mother, Rosa, doesn't jump to the usual conclusion that her daughter has been sleeping around. Instead, Rosa believes that Sulfia must have gotten pregnant by looking at a man. Is Rosa stupid? Not at all, Rosa just has such a low opinion of her daughter that doesn't think any man would have her. Even if her daughter happens to be a medical miracle, Rosa isn't going to allow her daughter to have this baby and bring shame to her own good name. Despite her best efforts, however, some months later, Aminat is born and Rosa is smitten, despite the child's tendency to cry all of the time. The little girl looks just like Rosa, after all, and isn't that a fortunate thing?
Beginning in 1978 Russia and for the next thirty years, Rosa will spend all of her time and energy "helping" Sulfia find a suitable husband, raising Aminat in the right way (something Sulfia clearly isn't capable of doing), and making sure she gets everything she deserves out of her own life.
Those of you who have read "Olive Kitteridge" will cringe when I tell you that Rosa Achemetowna makes Olive look like the mother of the year. She is, perhaps the most egotistical character ever brought to life on the page and one of the most conniving.
"I think it pleased Sergej to have such a graceful swan like me as his mother-in-law, especially given that he had married such an ugly duckling."Far from finding Rosa so disagreeable that I didn't want to read another word about her, Bronsky pulled me into Rosa's world. Even after Rosa essentially sells her daughter to a pedophile, I still could not bring myself to hate her. In fact, by the end of the book, I even began to feel sorry for this woman who was so wrapped up in her own view of the world, that she couldn't see what was really happening around her, couldn't really see the people around her for who they were.
Bronsky's writing is crisp, yet detailed and she writes with a wit that makes a character like Rosa someone the reader will care about. I accepted this book as part of my continuing effort to widen my view of the world and I was not disappointed. Bronsky shows the reader what life was like in Russia in the 1980's and 90's for the average citizen and what it felt like for those who finally decided they needed to find another life for themselves in another country. Although the title of this book may give the impression that the book is a light read, Bronsky pulls together a number of serious themes, making it an excellent choice for book clubs.
Rosa here does sound very creepy, and if the author still made you care about her, it is some feat indeed! Nice review!ReplyDelete
I'm intrigued! Should we read it for book club?ReplyDelete
Ugh, I hate Rosa just from your review! LOL I don't think I could read the book. I do love books about Russia in the 80's and 90's, but I think I'll stick with accounts by journalists who were there!ReplyDelete
Rose sounds awful but interesting. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention!ReplyDelete
I have been fascinated by Rosa and her meglomania since first hearing about this book. She sounds awful and mean, but also captivating, and I really am intrigued by a book that revolves around such a horrible woman. I am glad to see that she captivated you too. It sounds like it was an engrossing read for you, and I can't wait to try it for myself!ReplyDelete
This sounds really good--the fact that it is a Europa places it pretty high in my regard.ReplyDelete
I don't have enough time to read ~ but I still do it! LOL I spend most nights til about 3 am and get about four hours sleep. Enjoyed your blog. I need marketing advice on my blog, so come visit when u get the chance!ReplyDelete
This sounds fascinating. I love the cover.ReplyDelete
I didn't care for Rosa, but I still loved the book. She is indeed incredibly self-centered...I was appalled by her actions, yet enthralled by the story.ReplyDelete
This sounds like such a fascinating book. I'm glad you reviewed it, because I would never have even heard of it. Plus, the title alone makes me think its about cooking and life - like in those women's fiction books where a woman discovers the joys of cooking and her life changes or something like that. Anyhow, this definitely sounds like something I would be interested in. Great post! Thanks, Lisa!ReplyDelete
I started this book a few months ago but had to put it down due to a project - I was impressed with how it pulled me in with only the first few pages. I will definitely be getting back to this soon.ReplyDelete
I am in the middle of this; when Sulfia dotes on her father-in-law the radio repairman, so endearing! Yea, but. Rosai s a piece of work. I am laughing a LOT more than i expected. I knew I would love this story!ReplyDelete
So glad to have found your blog, we seem to have similar tastes and ideas for reading :) I felt almost the exact same way about this book, I loved it, but I must admit I almost hit the hating point of the scale with Rosa, but then by the end you are feeling sorry for her because she's hit such an insane level. Wonderful review!ReplyDelete