THE LOVES OF FAUSTYNA by Nina Fitzpatrick


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 A hectic tour of the last decades of Polish Communism, complete with its own nonstop laugh track, that tries too hard to be both wise and witty. FitzPatrick (Fables of the Irish Intelligentsia, 1993) sets the tone in the opening scene: the appearance over Krak¢w in 1967 of buttock-shaped clouds that fill the inhabitants with a ``vague sense of having committed some mortal sin which God was now bluntly pointing out to us.'' One of those uneasy citizens is narrator Faustyna, a psychology student who decides that she will lose her virginity to a visiting Russian so that ``hail, rain or Apocalypse'' she will at least die a woman. The deed done, Faustyna goes on to acquire a series of lovers and participate in anti- government demonstrations. Fearing arrest, she finds work in the Psychotechnic Bureau at the Central Railway Station of a ``mongrel city'' in which everyone is hiding something. Here she has affairs with a political activist and an old school friend, either of whom could be the father of the daughter to whom she eventually gives birth. Politics, the personal, and the vaguely supernatural intertwine as Faustyna goes on with a life that is supposed to be a hilarious but profound indictment of the regime. Back in Krak¢w working for Solidarity, she is arrested and imprisoned, then released after a few months when she guiltily signs a Declaration of Loyalty, because ``it's too much for an unmarried mother to fight communism.'' Other lovers follow as Faustyna continues her political work, but one betrays her, and she again is detained. Though the old regime is dying, Faustyna, still harassed by the police, for the first time thinks of leaving; in the end, she notes, ``just fatigue'' can make you give up. She departs for Ireland, heading for a place on the coast where she has heard ``magical events can happen.'' More sit-com than satire.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1995
ISBN: 0-14-024132-9
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994


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