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Publisher's Summary

Kassabova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and grew up under the drab, muddy, gray mantle of one of communism’s most mindlessly authoritarian regimes. Escaping with her family as soon as possible after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, she lived in Britain, New Zealand, and Argentina, and several other places. But when Bulgaria was formally inducted to the European Union she decided it was time to return to the home she had spent most of her life trying to escape. What she found was a country languishing under the strain of transition. This two-part memoir of Kapka’s childhood and return explains life on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

©2009 Kapka Kassabova (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Good start, but ended up not liking the author

This book started out great, as the author took us through rich descriptions of her childhood experiences during communism in Bulgaria. But when she describes her adult experiences visiting Bulgaria, she seems to view the people without much sympathy or attempt at understanding them. What else would you expect from someone who feels the need to inform religious people she meets that she is an atheist. I’d rather hear their points of view, not her self-satisfied statements. She proudly tells us that she is “polygamous with religion” (or some such phrasing), which only means to me she has only a superficial understanding of religion in general. She also unnecessarily declares to a stranger that she and her partner don’t feel a need to get married; it’s telling to me that she tells this to a jovial old man who is supportive of her views - and is at least mentally unfaithful to his wife. One of the most annoying things was her travels with a guy who, together, they make fun of some local uneducated people... she describes laughing and making fun of the things they said and did, in their presence! I do not want to hear an account of real people from a very unsympathetic author. Something else I thought egregious but unsurprising: she describes a conversation with a woman who had been a “labor camp baby”, I think she called her: the woman had been a baby in the camps, and had been thrown into a bucket of water to be drowned by a guard (taken out of her helpless mother’s arms), then to be rescued and grow up in the horrors of the camps. I can’t even fathom how that would shape a person. Then, after telling her experience (in a way the author almost seems to poke fun at) the woman changes the subject and says she doesn’t believe the Holocaust happened. The author, who doesn't have much introspection it seems, proudly informs us that she launched into a tirade against the woman about her uneducated evil views, or however she put it. There is no journalistic interest or open-minded empathy in trying to understand why the woman feels that way, what led her to that conclusion, or even trying to understand how a childhood of forced labor and hunger might shape who she is. Instead, the author storms off to another carriage on the train with the words, “I’m done sympathizing for one day” or something like that.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A life remembered and told eloquently

Real life. Real emotions. Story, poetry, narration, all done well. Would recommend to anyone interested in other people's perspectives.

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Excellent!

This is a combination personal story and travel guide. Tells about author's life under communist rule and gives wonder guide to Bulgarian history and tourist destinations. Covered everything spoken about on travel websites but in an easy to read fashion. The narration is impeccable. There is a bit of jumping back and forth between her solo travels and a trip she took with a friend. Just need to pay attention. Author also covers unpleasant topics without using profanity or too much graphic detail.
Would definitely recommend for anyone planning to visit Bulgaria or anyone just interested in knowing more about this interesting country.

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This book took me back in time

Good book. I found many of the stories from post communist Bulgaria painfully familiar especially the ones with the family members.
The communist system produced a few lost generations of confused souls with stories that are difficult to explain to somebody coming from a free world.

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Very revealing of life behind iron curtain

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Very revealing of life behind iron curtain. These things you need to know. Be prepared though; some of the recalled events will break your heart.

What aspect of Emily Gray’s performance would you have changed?

She's not the best ready. Didn't do very well with voices of different characters.