Saturday, July 25, 2009

An unlikely romance

If you were to troll our shelves looking for Romantic Fiction novels, the chances are pretty high that the heroine of the story won't be a 68-year old Hungarian peasant and the object of her affection won't be a squat, white-haired potter. That's what makes our latest novel - Valeria's Last Stand, by Marc Fitten - such a rare find. Set in a village so unremarkable that two World Wars and a Communist Revolution passed by without so much as a glance towards its cobbled streets, Valeria is a story about opportunity and possibility. All of the characters face a moment when they realize that there is a chance for their lives to change, for their destiny to travel down a different path, and that it's never too late to take that first step towards something new and wonderful. It could be lust, it could be art, it could be a career, or it could just be stability.
This is not an overtly philosophical novel, however. The characters recognize their new possibilities rather quickly (Valeria's moment of epiphany happens in the middle of the farmers' market) and there isn't a lot of hemming and hawing about choosing a new life. In the case of the woman who is run out of town, she didn't have much time for vacillating, but generally Fitten sketches characters who act decisively without too much introspection. I think that's true of many people, and frankly, its a nice change from novels with page after page of angst-ridden self-analysis. Fitten's novel moves along nicely, and it's earthy without being vulgar. There's a 'small town trying to enter the global marketplace' subplot that should be familiar to Alaskans, as well as a great deal of gentle humor. This book is recommended for anyone who would like a well-paced story about autumnal romance and awakenings.

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