By Bohumil Hrabal
Via the author Milan Kundera known as Czechoslovakia's maximum modern author comes a unique (now in English for the 1st time) peopled with eccentric, unforgettable population of a house for the aged who reminisce approximately their lives and their altering kingdom. Written with a willing eye for the absurd and sprinkled with discussion that captures the poignancy of the standard, this novel permits us into the brain of an aged lady coming to phrases with the passing of time.
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He was looking straight at me now, standing very still. ‘I don’t know what she was called, but she was a local girl and she loved you with all her heart. ’ ‘Evie,’ he said. ’ He grabbed hold of my shoulder. ‘You know Evie? Will you tell me where she is? ’ Evie Edenshaw! Each syllable rang like a bell in my head. So this was Mama’s real name! . not here. She passed away this summer. She died of the consumption,’ I said, struggling not to cry. His eyes filled too. ‘Poor little Evie,’ he murmured.
During those long lonely years growing up in the Foundling Hospital I had thought all families living together were equally happy. When my dear friend Polly and I played picturing games, our favourite fantasy was playing Mothers and Fathers. We took turns being the parents and breathed life into the hospital bolsters so that they became our babies. ’ ‘I am very well, dear Father. Pray come and kiss our pretty baby’ – the very words bringing tears of longing to our eyes. The turbulent experiences of the past six months had done nothing to alter my expectations of family bliss.
Had Mama really said Monksby? . . Monkton? When we curled up together during those sweet stolen nights at the hospital, we had whispered the stories of our missing years. I had told Mama about the cottage in the country that had been my home till I was five. I had told her about my dear foster brother Jem, though I found it painful talking about him then, because I thought he had forgotten me. Mama wasn’t so interested in any of my foster siblings but she asked endless questions about my foster mother Peg.