The Postmen's House

Maggie Hemingway, Author Sinclair-Stevenson, $13.95 (296p) ISBN 978-1-85619-009-1
Hemingway's third novel (after Stop House Blues ) is an intricate exploration of the breakdown of a marriage, the nature of human suffering, and the evolution and resiliency of the spirit. What makes this story different is that the couple, Jan and Eliska, are refugees from the Czech Communist regime living in London. Instead of clinging to each other for support in an alien culture they discover what is mundanely termed their ``irreconcilable differences.'' Jan is half English and a dyed-in-the-wool Anglophile. He takes a job as a postman and wholeheartedly begins the process of assimilation, soon becoming obsessed by a trio of authors' names--Dickens, Darwin, Dostoevsky--painted on the door of the Postmen's House. Eliska, on the other hand, does not dare to assimilate into British culture. In their alternating voices, Jan focuses on his activities and his perception of his ``Englishness,'' while Eliska seeks respite in memories of her life in Czechoslovakia. Although the ending is inevitable, the novel's power lies in a painful turnabout in which Eliska draws strength from her remembrances of her culture as Jan becomes completely enervated. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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