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  • Jane Austen Meets Fredrik Backman

    NOTE: I received early access to this book through NetGalley in exchange for writing an impartial review. Originally published in 2017 in German, it has now been translated into English by Tess Lewis with a scheduled publication date of June 22, 2021. What a completely delightful read! While I find it hard to describe what exactly makes this novel so enjoyable, let me say that it feels like Mariana Leky's style combines some of the best qualities of Jane Austen with Fredrik Backman. Like Austen, it’s a study of small town life, where not much happens, but somehow everything ordinary people do everyday is full of drama. And like Backman (Austen too), there is SO MUCH humor woven into the narrative. Almost as though the book is reminding us NOT to take our lives too seriously. This is a book where the author's unique style enhances the story. At the start of the book, the central protagonist, Luisa, and her best friend Martin are inseparable. Luisa’s parents do not give her the attention she deserves. Fortunately, her widowed grandmother Selma (whose dreams also predict the future) provides all the security and love Luisa could want. There are other meaningful relationships — with the reclusive Marlies, the superstitious Elsbeth, the remote hunter (and Martin's father) Palm, the ever attentive village optician, Dietrich, the bookshop owner, Mr. Rodder, even a psychotherapist, Dr. Maschke. Later, a Buddhist monk named Frederik joins in. As years pass, these characters support each other through tragedies, separations, secrets, attempted murder, and love affairs... while accepting each other’s quirks and foibles. So that the book becomes a lovely tale of how much we can all offer one another, when we don't let personal judgements get in the way. It's a very enjoyable book, full of love, and I recommend it to everyone. And I will look for more books by Mariana Leky.

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  • Small towns

    I received a free electronic ARC of this excellent novel from Netgalley, author Mariana Leky, translator Tess Lewis, and publisher Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me, I have read What You Can See from Here of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I am pleased to recommend this excellent tale to friends and family. Our story begins on April 18, 1983. Selma is our storyteller, just a child in 1983, living in a busy household of three generations spread over several floors. Her mother has a flower shop, her father is a doctor, and most of her time, and that of her best friend Martin, is spent with her Grandmother Selma and Selma's gentleman friend, the Optician. This is a very small town, isolated and insular, somewhere in Europe. The kids take a bus to meet the train to go to school. The village inhabitants are like those of all small, insular communities, made up of fiercely individual folks who have learned over the years to rub along without too much friction with the odd exceptions, usually involving a tipsy soul. Usually involving Palm, Martin's father, if the truth is told. Marlies is testy and negative but did not require the addition of wicked drink to become unsociable. And then everything changes. This is a stream of consciousness story, one you will not be able to set aside till the end. And then you will want more words, more stories about the other folks you grew to love in the pages of this book. Hopefully, we will see more work from Ms. Leky come our way.

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  • A most unusual book

    Book Details CON: At first when I was reading, I felt somewhat confused. The segues between scenes were not smoothly done. It jumped from the present to the past without warning. Also, the change of subject from one page to another I felt needs improvement. I wished there had been more substance and dialogue in the epilogue. I really wanted to know what Luisa and Frederick's future held. PRO: I liked the different threads of the lives of the small village people: Luisa, Selma, Peter, Elsbeth, Marlies, Frederik and the optician. They were so different from each other and shared everything that occurred in their lives whether good or bad. They were all a close-knit family of their own making. When I got to the last page when Luisa was waving to Frederik it reminded me of the beginning when Selma's husband was waving at her, I felt a chill of Deja vu. I loved the characters each had their own demons and personality quirks and yet were impossible not to love. They were honest and realistic. I felt part of their put together family. I felt I knew them as they knew each other. The book I felt was like a diary recalling all the highs and lows, all the smiles and frowns, all the pain and joy and most importantly the love they all felt for one another young and old, male and female. CONCLUSION: It is worth reading if one can overlook the awkward segues and transitions of past and present also of the change of characters. I feel this is a book that I need to read again to really understand all the author wanted to convey. I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving a review. Reasons I enjoyed this book: Entertaining Original Page-turner Realistic Tragic Unpredictable Wonderful characters

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