Set in New York's Russian émigré community, Vaclav & Lena is a timeless love story from a stunningly gifted young novelist.
Vaclav and Lena, both the children of Russian émigrés, are at the same time from radically different worlds. While Vaclav's burgeoning love of performing magic is indulged by hard-working parents pursuing the American dream, troubled orphan Lena is caught in a domestic situation no child should suffer through. Taken in as one of her own by Vaclav's big-hearted mother, Lena might finally be able to blossom; in the naive young magician's eyes, she is destined to be his "faithful assistant"...but after a horrific discovery, the two are ripped apart without even a goodbye. Years later, they meet again. But will their past once more conspire to keep them apart?
I hope you are one of these persons who judges a book by its cover -only actual books of course and not people- then let me tell you something about Vaclav and Lena.
If at first sight you thought this is a light-hearted, one-layered children's book -or book about children-, then you are wrong.
If, on the other hand, you thought this looks like a tender, sweet, vintage read with tendencies to suck you in a story so warm and emotional that you won't be satisfied with another book for sometime after finishing, then you are completely right.
That's what this book was for me, anyway.
The characters were very well fleshed-out, even though the writing style is this type of poetic, sparce use of words that so few books manage to get right these days. You know, the kind of book that is written as though every single word has been chosen personally for the task of conveying a particual message in the story. The kind of book that is full of word-painted pictures.
Anyway, the characters as I was saying are extremely realistic, from the fragile Lena to sweet, growing-up Vaclav, to the host of surrounding characters.
Their love story begins as a childhood friendship and then it becomes the medium via which we are diven the painful realiry of the cold war.
Now, don't mistake me this book deals with some very tough issues, regardless of the historical frame they are placed in, so sometimes, although the writing is elegant, the story becomes sad, even painful. Also, there is a very tactful dealing with a very mature issue.
I loved everything about this book.
I loved how it made me almost cry and then surprised me with the warmest feeling.
I loved the humanity of the characters and the realistic quality of the situations they found themselves in.
I loved the literary and refined writing.