This is a very interesting book, which inspires the reader into thinking about the subjects talked about. It is less a novel than a collection of essays, which use four main characters – the womanising Tomas, his devoted wife Tereza, his mistress Sabina and her lover Franz – to illustrate the points made.
The reader is often reminded that these are not characters to believe in – more, they are devices necessary to explain the author’s writings. This may put off some readers, and it is certainly unusual; for that reason maybe I found it hard to engage with the characters. It never felt as though they were really brought to life, due to the fact that the author reminds us that they are merely plot devices. However, this is in keeping with the general theme of the story…
The book questions the point of life; of ‘being’, and asks such questions as, if we have this life and no other, is there any point to this life – and if we do indeed have future lives (i.e., reincarnation) where we continue to make the same mistakes and follow the same paths as we followed in our first life, again – is there any point to that life? We are also given to question the difference between love and sex, and how the two can co-exist apart from each other, yet within the same person. It also gives an interesting insight to life in the former Czechoslovakia under the Communist regime.
All in all, an insightful and intelligent book – not always the easiest or lightest read, but worth investing the time in.
(For more information about the author, please click here.)