AFTER PENTECOST by Richard Bankowsky


Email this review


In this second novel, Mr. Bankowsky traces the roots and motives of actions which lead to a suicide and murder in a Polish community in Prescott, N.J. in 1946. He goes back to Poland in the '20's for much that is basic, and up to Augsburg, Germany, in 1945 for the catalyst that sets off the final act of violence. Through interior monologues of various characters, and through intimate third-person observation, he reveals all of the facets of the case that show that no one is completely guilty and that all are in one way or another victims. The American Poles who are involved are the intricately interrelated Groszeks and Novaks and the precipitating force is a beautiful Polish woman who had been the mistress of a German war criminal. The enormous complications of the story are dramatic and the large cast of characters are interesting and well-portrayed. But the plot and the characters often get out of hand-because the author insists upon telling his story with hints of what is to come and much mystery about what has gone before. It all eventually fits together, but this viewing of each individual piece in detail is sometimes disconcerting and disperses many tensions which have been handsomely built up. But in spite of these structural criticisms, there are a lot of wonderful things-specifically some of the characters (old man Groszek and Martha Novak, particularly) seen with great insight and sensitivity and some humor, and some tellingly dramatic stories. On the whole it is an engrossing novel, if you stick with it.

Publisher: Random House