A family’s testament of endurance in occupied Amsterdam
Five great books set in PRAGUE
18th July 2020
Prague is the latest city for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in PRAGUE
‘Prague; the city so beautiful that it was spared by Hitler… or so the story goes. Prague is a living and breathing enigma; old and dirty but somehow unimaginably graceful.’
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
In this novel – a story of irreconcilable loves and infidelities – Milan Kundera addresses himself to the nature of twentieth-century ‘Being’ In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. We feel, says the novelist, ‘the unbearable lightness of being’ – not only as the consequence of our private acts but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine.
Juxtaposing Prague, Geneva, Thailand and the United States, this masterly novel encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, and embraces, it seems, all aspects of human existence. It offers a wide range of brilliant and amusing philosophical speculations and it descants on a variety of styles. In this classic novel Kundera draws together the Czechoslovakia of the Prague Spring and the Russian invasion, the philosophy of Nietzsche, and the love affairs of a number of heartbreakingly familiar characters.
Prague Nights by Benjamin Black
Prague, 1599. Christian Stern, a young doctor, has just arrived in the city. On his first evening, he finds a young woman’s body half-buried in the snow.
The dead woman is none other than the emperor’s mistress, and there’s no shortage of suspects. Stern is employed by the emperor himself to investigate the murder. In the search to find the culprit, Stern finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of the emperor’s court – unspoken affairs, letters written in code, and bitter rivalries. But there’s no turning back now…
The Child on Platform One by Gill Thompson
Prague 1939. Young mother Eva has a secret from her past. When the Nazis invade, Eva knows the only way to keep her daughter Miriam safe is to send her away – even if it means never seeing her again.
But when Eva is taken to a concentration camp, her secret is at risk of being exposed.
In London, Pamela volunteers to help find places for the Jewish children arrived from Europe. Befriending one unclaimed little girl, Pamela brings her home.
Then when her son enlists in the RAF, Pamela realises how easily her own world could come crashing down…
Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal
TOO LOUD A SOLITUDE is a tender and funny story of Hant’a – a man who has lived in a Czech police state – for 35 years, working as compactor of wastepaper and books. In the process of compacting, he has acquired an education so unwitting he can’t quite tell which of his thoughts are his own and which come from his books. He has rescued many from jaws of hydraulic press and now his house is filled to the rooftops. Destroyer of the written word, he is also its perpetuator.
But when a new automatic press makes his job redundant there’s only one thing he can do – go down with his ship.
This is an eccentric romp celebrating the indestructability- against censorship, political opression etc – of the written word.
Escape to Perdition by James Silvester
Prague 2015. Herbert Biely, aged hero of the Prague Spring, stands on the brink of an historic victory, poised to reunite the Czech and Slovak Republics twenty-six years after the Velvet Revolution.
The imminent Czech elections are the final stage in realising his dream of reunification, but other parties have their own agendas and plans for the fate of the region. A shadowy collective, masked as an innocuous European Union Institute, will do anything to preserve the status quo.
The mission of Institute operative Peter Lowes is to prevent reunification by the most drastic of measures. Yet Peter is not all that he seems. A deeply troubled man, desperate to escape the past, his resentment towards himself, his assignment and his superiors deepens as he questions not just the cause, but his growing feelings for the beautiful and captivating mission target. As alliances shift and the election countdown begins, Prague becomes the focal point for intrigue on an international scale. The body count rises, options fade, and Peter’s path to redemption is clouded in a maelstrom of love, deception and murder. Can he confront his past to save the future?
This is a high quality page turning thriller and perfect for fans of Le Carre.
Andrew for the TripFiction Team
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