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Valeria's Last Stand

af Marc Fitten

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
20037103,037 (3.32)41
In 68 years, Valeria has never minced her words. Harrumphing through her isolated little village deep in the Hungarian steppes, she clutches her shopping basket like a battering ram & leaves nothing uncriticised. But one day, her spinster's heart is struck by an unlikely arrow: the village potter, with his decisive hands & solid gaze.… (mere)
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» Se også 41 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 37 (næste | vis alle)
Sweet fairy tale like beginning quickly degenerated into a very forgettable novel. Still like the cover though. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 15, 2016 |
The novel opens with Valeria, a crotchety old woman who lives in a small rural village in Hungary. She is not well liked and is a bit of a bully. One day in the market, she sees the potter and is smitten. She once had her heart broken and has been closed off since, but she thinks she might be able to open her heart to him. There is only one catch – he is already seeing the pub owner, Ibolya.

Valeria decides to ask the potter to make her a pitcher. He ends up making her the most beautiful pitcher he has ever made and discovers that Valeria brings out his creativity. He and Valeria have an affair, but the potter feels very badly for Ibolya. He cannot decide what to do so he does nothing which infuriates both women.

In the second part of the book, a chimney sweep comes to town. While he is supposed to bring good luck, his presence ends up altering the village. When the potter does not visit Valeria, she has a tryst with the chimney sweep. While he falls in love with Valeria, she does not return his feelings. She is still in love with the potter. Ibolya and the chimney sweep become friends and try to unravel the potential relationship between the potter and Valeria – along with some other bad behavior that causes trouble in the town.

The ending is bittersweet and is happy enough. I very much enjoyed reading about this town and the people in it. Valeria and the potter’s love story is sweet and timid and satisfying. Fitten’s writing is full of fun characters with subtle depth. This novel was a joy to read.
  Carlie | Jun 24, 2016 |
A good quick read. Read it in about 6 hours I liked the characters and the story moves along well. It could have been set in any number of small towns in any number of countries but the author clearly knew some of Hungry's history. Every person was trying to create a connection and a legacy weather they were aware of it or not ( )
  SashaM | Apr 20, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Some people don't like change. Some are so averse to it that it infects their characters, making them crochety, bitter, and unpleasant. We use the names of these sorts of people as insults: troglodytes, Luddites, and more. But even when we are resistant to change, it comes into all of our lives whether we invite it in and embrace it or not. In Marc Fitten's novel Valeria's Last Stand, there is an entire Hungarian village being modernized at seemingly warp speed but there's also a grumpy, grouchy older woman, the eponymous Valeria, who, because life has not gone the way she wanted, refuses to concede anything to progress until she finds herself falling in love late in life and having to bend and adapt if she wants to have a chance of finally living the life she has long desired.

Set in a small town in Hungary post-Communism, this novel captures provincial life and the assorted characters who populate this place forgotten by progress and innovation. Now that the people and the town have access to modern conveniences, the mayor is determined haul their little corner of the world into the twenty-first century. No one is a bigger symbol of the insularity and aversion to change than curmudgeonly Valeria who has been taking her own bad mood out on the other villagers for 40 years. She is a thoroughly grumpy woman, contemptuous of everyone around her. But when she spies the village potter making a purchase at the market, she falls for him and has to revamp herself as appealing and desirable, especially since the potter is already involved with the rather buxom, Ibolya, the local bar keep. The love triangle is comical, and made even more so by the arrival of the itinerant chimney sweep to make it a love square. But there are very serious issues in play in the novel as well: progress simply for progress' sake, xenophobia, insularity, love, change and adaptation. It's a unique and unusual comedy of manners really, although threaded with some appalling violence and mob mentality.

The novel is well written and deadpan. The characters are not entirely likable but they are all the more human for their faults and weaknesses. Positing a dumpy, cranky sexagenarian as a love-struck muse for the potter is pure genius and the convoluted relationships between the main characters are reminiscent of the theater. This could definitely be successfully staged. Valeria as a symbol of the closed and resistant village is well conceived and executed and her slow growth and change, a willingness to open herself up and expose herself to both the positive and the negative, renders this a readable and delightful allegory. ( )
1 stem whitreidtan | Nov 2, 2012 |
nette Geschichte mit intressanten CharakterenZwei alte Frauen in einem kleinen Dorf im Kampf um den Töpfer des DorfesSehr gut vorgelesen ( )
  joergr | May 2, 2012 |
Viser 1-5 af 37 (næste | vis alle)
At the outset, this novel appears to be an amalgam of good ideas other writers have had. There's a bit of Chocolat (far-away village, eccentric inhabitants), of Anita Brookner (grumpy, ageing lady discovers love), even some Peter Mayle (I know about country markets because I've been there). But it turns out to be a great deal more than the sum of its parts.

Valeria, a 68-year-old spinster, lives on her own in a village in Hungary, bitter and proud since a broken love affair 40 years earlier. She sees a potter choosing mushrooms at the market, kick-starting a love story that, while intrinsically comic (a love triangle between three old people becomes a love square on the arrival of a chimney sweep), also manages to be moving.

The potter is torn between Valeria and his current squeeze, Ibolya, the bartender. Yet he is inspired by Valeria when he makes the most beautiful object of his career: a jug of rare craftsmanship. His muse – this greying, dumpy woman – has changed his outlook on life.

The book is written like a fairy tale. Fitten's language is incredibly simple, almost soothing. Many characters are not even given names. We have the mayor, the potter, the chimney sweep. We have goodies and baddies, cruelty and redemption. On the stage, brazen, bawdy Ibolya could be played by a man in drag.

There is more to this book than a comic love story, however. Fitten spent four years in Hungary and obviously feels strongly about the country. What he has written is as much about political change as personal change; the village's greedy and ambitious mayor is determined to drag it into the present. There is to be a railway station and a factory. Foreign fruits such as bananas are introduced in the market. No one is more resistant to change than Valeria, yet over the course of the book, no one changes more than she. Every beautiful object made for Valeria by the potter, each one symptomatic of both their changes of heart, is shattered – a metaphor for the failure of the mayor's efforts at pushing his town into the west.
tilføjet af VivienneR | RedigerThe Guardian, Sophia Waugh (Aug 2, 2009)
 
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In 68 years, Valeria has never minced her words. Harrumphing through her isolated little village deep in the Hungarian steppes, she clutches her shopping basket like a battering ram & leaves nothing uncriticised. But one day, her spinster's heart is struck by an unlikely arrow: the village potter, with his decisive hands & solid gaze.

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