Or, as it might more properly be titled, The Unbearable Crapness of Self-Indulgent, Pseudo-Intellectual Claptrap. Eek.

This book is not so much a novel as a little piece of showing off for the author.

The characters are so badly drawn that at no stage did any of them seem even human, never mind compelling or real. There is Tomas, a womanising doctor who loses all his position and status after the 1968 Russian invasion of his homeland Czechoslovakia because of a letter to the editor that he had written before the invasion. There is Tereza, the faithful wife tortured by jealousy and weakness. There is Sabina, a paintress and Tomas’ favourite mistress, obsessed by an ideal of betrayal that started with her original and irredeemable betrayal of her father’s values. Franz, with whom Sabina took up after Tomas returned to Prague, leaving her in Zurich, is also a sketch, a university professor who is in love with parades and the Grand March to utopia.

None of them are real people. They are dwarfed in the book by the ego of its Author. He does not just shut up and let the story (story?) happen, the way an author should. He simply must throw in his own opinions about the characters, about the events, about the meaning of life. Especially about the meaning of life. And he makes the thoughts and deeds of all his characters just a way of exemplifying some idea of his own. They are not real, they are puppets. Worse, the strings are showing. It’s like reading Thunderbirds – only without much of a plot.

Ho-hum. At least I will never have to read this again. And when I hear somebody banging on about how this book changed their life, I shall try to smother a derisive snort.


Here’s an Amazon link, if you really want one.
I got my copy free from the library, I’m pleased to say.