The Deer Wedding by Penny Simpson

Friday, March 25, 2011

I've recently read alot of novels set either in Britain or America and decided enough was enough. I wanted to read about a country I have never been to before and have little knowledge of. So I chose The Deer Wedding by Penny Simpson an English author who has set her beautiful novel in the heart of Croatia. Through working on a production of The Tempest in post-war Croatia, Simpson built a strong relationship not just with the people she met on the island of Dalmatia but  with the wonderful landscape that surrounds this once war torn area. 

The Deer Wedding spreads its story over two generations, focusing on the hardships endured during two brutal wars and the miraculous artwork which was to be produced from such difficult times. Expanding from 1941 to 1998, Simpson uses the sensitive nature of Croatian history to nurture her character's experiences and develop a work of fiction that is both quirky and original. Set in Zagreb and Hvar, the story bounces back and forth from one generation to the next, unravelling the mystery that surrounds the protagonist's father's premature death. Dagmar makes for a modest heroine, her enthusiasm for life and her determination to clear her father's name and proclaim the truth is truly admirable. Dagmar's counterpart is the old and rather grumpy artist, Anton Fiskovic, a national treasure that shuns the limelight. A talented artist he struggles with society's sexual prejudices and retreats to his hometown, where he is haunted by the echoes of his past.

I found the optimism in this novel contagious, I won't lie, it touches on some of the darkest material I have ever read, but it is the characters' strength of heart that pushes you on to read the next chapter.

Witty, intelligent and exquisitly charming, this novel reads itself - you are merely the passenger.

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