Includes PS Section A remarkable, multifaceted story made up of journal accounts, memories, conversations and personal experience, The Bronski House is a paean to Poland, a landmark in travel writing, and a family history - tied together by the unique experience of returning from exile. The Bronski House has sold over 25,000 copies and The Spirit-Wrestlers has sold over 15,000. Written with the passion of an epic novel, but retains the hard-edged realism of a brilliant contemporary travel book. A wonderfully multi-faceted narrative, drawing on diaries and memories - The Bronski House reinvigorates travel literature. Competition: Vanora Bennett, The Taste of Dreams: An Obsession with Russia and Caviar
Philip Marsden is the author of The Bronski House, The Spirit-Wrestlers (winner of the Thomas Cook Travel Book of the Year Award), The Chains of Heaven, The Barefoot Emperor, The Levelling Sea and Rising Ground. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. He lives in Cornwall.
Several years ago, Marsden, a British travel writer (The Crossing Place: A Journey Among the Armenians), accompanied his friend Polish poet Zofia Ilinska, née Bronska, to Mantuski (now part of Belarus), the border village where she grew up; she left it, at age 17, on the outbreak of WWII, escaping with her mother, Helena, just ahead of the invading Soviet army. The author movingly describes Ilinska's emotional return to her childhood home, but of far greater interest is the portrait he draws of Helena's life. Distilling her diaries, letters and papers, to which Zofia gave him access, Marsden effectively evokes her adolescence, love affairs and marriage, which took place in an insular, upper-class Polish Catholic world changed forever by revolution and war. Helena lived through several episodes of poor health, the death of her husband and the dispersal of close relatives before she escaped to Lithuania with Zofia in 1939. This meandering memoir is for those who would enjoy a bird's-eye view of life in early-20th-century rural Poland. (June)
'An old but splendidly imagined fish, part novel, part reverie. Marsden has a dazzling gift for poetic evocation -- and for reminding us that Britain is not an island.' John Fowles, Spectator 'An extraordinary, multi-faceted narrative. From diaries and memories it recreates the true story of two polish women -- mother and daughter -- amid the destruction of a whole culture' Colin Thubron, Daily Telegraph 'He is an exquisite writer, with the elegant style, light historical touch and detachment of a storyteller ! incandescent ! the best travel writing I have read on Poland.' Simon Sebag Montefiore, Sunday Times 'A tragic, uplifting elegy to a remarkable family. Philip Marsden's work will invigorate travel literature by helping to propel it over the boundary into unexplored territory.' Rory Maclean, Times Literary Supplement
"This whole terrible world is upside down," exiled Polish poet Zofia Bronska Ilinska tells English author Marsden (The Crossing Place: A Journey Among the Armenians, LJ 4/15/95) as they revisit the Eastern Europe of her childhood. Published in Britain in 1996, this work combines an account of 1990s Belarus, based on Marsden's travels with Ilinska, with an interpretation of the past, drawn from her mother's journals and papers from the outset of World War I to the start of World War II. The traumas of war are intermingled with the everyday life of two generations of young women coming of age. In scenes reminiscent of Doctor Zhivago, the book powerfully depicts the effects of war on a wealthy family who became impoverished refugees. Plagued by constantly shifting borders, the family also moved from place to place as they fled the ever-changing enemy‘sometimes German, sometimes Russian, sometimes their Belorussian neighbors. A moving account; highly recommended for all libraries.‘Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, Ct.