England, late 1970s. Forty-something Chris is trapped in a loveless, sexless marriage. Roza, in her twenties, the daughter of one of Tito’s partisans, has only recently moved to London from Yugoslavia. One evening, Chris mistakes her for a prostitute and propositions her. Instead of being offended, she gets into his car. Over the next months Roza tells Chris stories of her past. She’s a fast-talking, wily Scheherazade, saving her own life as she retells it–and Chris is rapt. This deeply moving novel of their unlikely love is also a brilliantly subtle commentary on the seductive power of storytelling.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of History eBook: A Partisan's Daughter|
|Release Date: 10-07-2008|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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A Partisan's Daughter
The Girl on the Street Corner
I am not the sort of man who goes to prostitutes.
Well, I suppose that every man would say that. People would disbelieve it just because you felt you had to say it. It’s a self-defeating statement. If I had any sense I’d delete it and start again, but I’m thinking, “My wife’s dead, my daughter’s in New Zealand, I’m in bad health, and I’m past caring, and who’s paying any attention? And in any case, it’s true.”
I did know someone who admitted it, though. He was a Dutchman who’d done it with a prostitute during his national service. He was in Amsterdam and he was suffering from blue balls at a time when he was on leave and had a little money in his pocket. He said she was a real stunner, and the sex was better than he had expected. However, the woman kept a bin by her bedside, the kind that is like a miniature dustbin, with a lid. You can still get them in novelty shops. Anyway, after he’d finished he eased off the condom, and she reached out and lifted the lid off for him out of good manners. It was packed to the brim with used condoms, like a great cake of pink and brown rubber. He was so horrified by that bin of limp milky condoms that he never went to a prostitute again. Mind you, I haven’t seen him for twenty years, so he may well have succumbed by now. He liked to tell that story because he was an artist, and probably felt he had a Bohemian duty to be a little bit outrageous. I expect he was hoping I’d be shocked, because I am only a suburbanite.
I tried to go with a prostitute just once in my life, and it didn’t work out as I had