Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: Hardly Ever Otherwise by Maria Matios

Title: Hardly Ever Otherwise
Author: Maria Matios
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Glagoslav
Publish Date: May 15, 2012
Source: I received a copy of the book from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You're an armchair traveler.
What's the Story?:

From "Everything eventually reaches its appointed place in time and space. Maria Matios's dramatic family saga, Hardly Ever Otherwise, narrates the story of several western Ukrainian families during the last decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and expands upon the idea that "it isn't time that is important, but the human condition in time." In Matios's multi-tiered plot, the grand passions of ordinary people are illuminated under the caliginous light of an ethereal mysticism. Digressions on love, envy, transgression, together with atonement are woven into the story. Each character in this outstanding drama has an irrefutable alibi, a unique truth, and a private conflict with honor and duty. Her characters do not always act in accordance with logic and law books, as the laws of honor clash with the laws of the heart. And this is why it is hardly ever otherwise."

My Two Cents:

Hardly Ever Otherwise is told from three points of view and is all about a murder in a small Ukrainian village. Now you all may know that Ukraine is a place close to my heart. My great-great grandparents came from Ukraine to the States in the early 1900s. I had a chance to visit a friend who was in the Peace Corps there last year. There are not very many books written in English about Ukraine, so I was very excited for this book.

I loved the setting! The village is in a pretty remote mountainous area of Ukraine. The people of the village really only have each other. The village in the story is small and everyone seems to be in everyone else's business. They all know each other well, which is why the brutal murder seems to shake the village especially hard.

I thought it was really interesting how the author chose to tell the story from the point of view of the women in the village versus the men. I think it was very telling. The story takes place during the mid-century where gender was still an issue and to a degree, gender still plays a role in Ukrainian society even today.

I thought the translation of the book was pretty good and stayed true to the intention of the story. The ebook version that I received did have a lot of errors and mispellings, especially towards the beginning of the book. Hopefully these things are eventually cleaned up.

Bottom line: Good insight into a little known part of the world!



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