Saturday, October 05, 2019

There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett

THERE WAS STILL LOVE is an unforgettable story of memory, family and love. Because there is still love. No matter what

Most novels that deal with World War Two and its aftermath are often focused on the Holocaust, and in Australia, Changi, and the camps that imprisoned any Australians – civilian and military in places like Singapore during the 1940s. Very rarely have I read one set in the Communist era that goes between Communist Prague in 1980 and Melbourne in the same year, telling the story of the same family, and their vastly different experiences in each place – linked by grandmothers who were sisters, and photographs of each other, and the untold stories of how the branches of the family were separated in the months leading up to World War Two in 1948.

there was still love

Narrated through two children – a recurring theme in Parrett’s deeply honest stories – There Was Still Love is set in Melbourne and Prague (Czech Republic) and follows the journey of twin sisters who are separated by wars and distance.

The prologue of this book was only one page long and consisted of just a few paragraphs. About suitcases. Brown suitcases. And I was smitten. It introduces the recurring theme of suitcases which (I don’t think) is a huge metaphor, but rather a reminder of what we keep locked or hidden away and what we carry and take with us.

The story itself deviates from her usual style (well, from her previous two books). It’s essentially about a family – two sisters, torn apart during World War II and the direction their lives have since taken.

Mana is married to fellow Czech Bill (originally Vilem) and lives in Melbourne with their grand-daughter, referred to as Mala Liska (little fox), because of her red hair.

Eva is widowed and still lives in Prague, looking after her grandson Ludoslav (Ludek) whose mother is away performing with The Black Light Theatre. The novel jumps between the 1940s, 1960s and its current day setting of 1980. And even in 1980, she is only allowed to travel with the theatrical troupe providing her son Ludek remains in Prague with his grandmother.

I didn’t find the plot as devastating as Past The Shallows or poignant asWhen The Night Comes. It is however, a different type of novel.

It’s an homage of sorts. I think. It’s more focussed more on people and their stories more than on events.

Nothing much happens. (Well, in the present.) But I was riveted and this bewitching tale of families impacted by war, by prejudice and having to start lives anew drew me in.
I loved the way Parrett wrote the two children… living parallel lives on opposite sides of the world.. Their lives the same but different. Both living with grandparents, with absent parents and kinda wayward uncles. Appreciative of the love and security they have.

There Was Still Love (Favel Parrett, Hachette)


Favel Parrett's third novel, There Was Still Love, is a meticulously observed and masterfully crafted ...



Start by marking “Past the Shallows” as Want to Read: ... Brothers Joe, Harry and Miles live with their father, an abalone fisherman, on the south-east coast of Tasmania. ... See all 4 questions about Past the Shallows….

When the Night Comes is described as 'a powerful and haunting novel set on the very edge of the world.' Told by two protagonists, the novel takes place in Tasmania and Antarctica between 1986 and 1987.

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The Mercury‎

“Once you know Favel, you can't let her go,” said ... And I love how intimate she is with her writing. ... “Marta is such a good reader and it's such a treat to have an ... her new novel as a love letter to her late Czech grandparents, ...

CzechList: Eight Reasons to Love the Czech Republic

Travel Market Report‎ 

Czech writer Karel Capek was the person who first came up with the concept and the word “robot.

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Financial Times‎ 

Most readers and editors love short sentences. ... The Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal wrote a delightful single-sentence novel in 1964, Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age.

       Milan Kundera (Not Lost) in Translation 

       The Museum of Czech Literature is currently showing the exhibit Milan Kundera (neztracen) v překladech -- "Milan Kundera (Not Lost) in Translation'. 
       See also the Ian Willoughby and Václav Richter report at Radio Prague International, Prague exhibition highlights Kundera's relationship to translations