Rustic Baroque

by Jiří Hájíček

by Jiří Hájíček

Rustic Baroque is one of those quiet, unassuming novels that sneaks up on you; the kind of book that draws you in and bears you along easily and languidly and then turns, just at the right moment, and very politely kicks you in the gut.

In the gorgeous, apparently peaceful landscape of the deep Czech countryside, Pavel, the narrator, makes a modest living as an archivist-for-hire, helping people work out their family trees, immersing himself in history and rarely bothering with the outside world. One baking hot summer he accepts a commission from the beautiful and vivacious Daniela, a Prague-dweller whose life couldn’t be more different from his own, and begins to find that the histories he unearths in the archive have very real and upsetting consequences in the present-day world. Amidst the peace and progress of the modern Czech Republic, he finds himself excavating ghosts from the era of collectivization, when the countryside was far from placid and neighbour turned against neighbour – and some of those ghosts refuse to be exorcised.

Unaffectedly written, and translated with wonderful explanatory notes for non-Czechs by Gale A Kirking, Rustic Baroque is a gorgeous and lyrical mystery about trust, about the past, and about the secret pain that can lie beneath the sunniest summer idyll.

 

Publisher: Real Word Press

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