by Radek Sikorski ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 1, 1997
Peter Mayle meets Foreign Affairs in this double-edged tale of reconstruction in post-Communist Poland. Like many other Poles, young Sikorski (Dust of the Saints: A Journey Through War-Torn Afghanistan, 1990) found himself abroad (in England) when martial law was declared in Poland in 1981. But his life in exile, unlike most, was unusually charmed. By the time he returned to Poland in his late 20s, he was an Oxford-educated author and journalist with experience in Africa and Afghanistan. Active in the Solidarity-led government, he also took on the considerable task of reclaiming and restoring his family's old manor house, known as a dworek. ""A dworek is not just a nice house to live in, but a calling,"" writes Sikorski with characteristic intensity and passion. Not only was there the challenge and pleasure of restoring the ruined shell of a once-beautiful building, but there was the history of the environs (and, by extension, of Poland itself) to explore through the process. Sikorski quite clearly means for the restoration to serve as a metaphor for post-Communist Poland's active and often confusing search for a new identity and purpose. He interweaves his descriptions of the reconstruction of the house with his family's history and the turbulent history of modern Poland. Sikorski brings an appealingly dry wit to his observations about post-Communist politics but skimps on the more tangible aspects of reconstructing the dworek (i.e., finances). The house is located in Pomerania, a region that has shifted between German and Polish control, and relations between Poles and Germans loom large in these stories. But Sikorski's presentation of the German-Polish problem manages to diminish or neglect the Jewish aspect of Poland's past. His otherwise moving account of Polish suffering under the Nazis would have been better balanced if placed within the larger picture of the Holocaust. Nonetheless, Full Circle is an engagingly written and enlightening look at contemporary Poland and its zeitgeist.
Pub Date: June 1, 1997
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997
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