Jim Powell's The Breaking of Eggs (Penguin, July) is the story of curmudgeonly Feliks Zhukovski, Polish by birth, Communist (make that "leftist" ) at heart, who, at age 61, finds that just about everything he has based his life on is crumbling. Sole owner of a soon-to-be-outdated series of travel guides to Eastern Europe, Feliks, self-controlled and overly rational, falls ill and is forced by a chance remark ("It's always good to be at home when you are ill") to confront the fact that he has no sense of home. With great charm, humor, and wisdom—and a vast amount of modern European history—Powell tells of Feliks's rebirth from a political to an emotional creature. This story manages to take well-worn themes—the horrors of wars, the decisions made and misunderstood or regretted, the costs of political allegiances, the elasticity of families—and fashion them into a fresh, moving, and remarkable story. Unforgettable.
Volume 257 Issue 25 06/28/2010