All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett

on October 15, 2019

There Was Still Love 
Favel Parrett
Hachette AUS
2019, 210p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Prague, 1938: Eva flies down the street from her sister. Suddenly a man steps out, a man wearing a hat. Eva runs into him, hits the pavement hard. His hat is in the gutter. His anger slaps Eva, but his hate will change everything, as war forces so many lives into small, brown suitcases.

Prague, 1980: No one sees Ludek. A young boy can slip right under the heavy blanket that covers this city – the fear cannot touch him. Ludek is free. And he sees everything. The world can do what it likes. The world can go to hell for all he cares because Babi is waiting for him in the warm flat. His whole world.

Melbourne, 1980: Mala Liska’s grandma holds her hand as they climb the stairs to their third floor flat. Inside, the smell of warm pipe tobacco and homemade cakes. Here, Mana and Bill have made a life for themselves and their granddaughter. A life imbued with the spirit of Prague and the loved ones left behind.

This is a really hard review to write. I’ve read one of Favel Parrett’s novels before (the first one, Past The Shallows) and I have the second one somewhere, just haven’t gotten around to it. I bought this one on holidays down in Phillip Island at the amazing little bookstore we found there. It was a book I was curious about and I was already starting to see some wonderful things about it around, so it was definitely one I was looking forward to.

I did enjoy this. I just don’t think I enjoyed it as much as everyone else. It’s set during a couple of different time periods and also places – Prague in both 1938 and also 1980 and Melbourne in 1980 as well. I was quite interested in Prague in 1980….. it was not what I expected, sometimes I think I forget how entrenched in Communist rule it was (often by force). Experiencing it through the eyes of people who both lived there their whole lives and also were returning to visit, was enlightening. Also experiencing Melbourne through the eyes of someone who had only lived in Prague was interesting too, particularly the way in which they were overwhelmed by the choices in supermarkets and shops, the many options for the one product. Which was not the way it was in (what was then) Czechoslovakia.

There are a lot of moments in this book that are written with lovely simplicity – such as the reunion between two sisters torn apart by war, that now live halfway across the world from each other. And the ways in which the resentments of a lifetime bubble to the surface, even after just hours in each other’s company again. There’s also a moment where the sister living in Australia faces an ugly moment of racism which is heartbreaking in its deliverance, as seen through the eyes of a young child.

So there are moments here. Beautiful moments that are well written. But I have to admit, were this not such a short novel, my attention would have wandered quite a bit. There are large parts of it where I feel as though I was waiting for something to happen, waiting for more. Some of the moments felt like for me, they needed more fleshing out. I did like the relationship between Mala Liska and her grandfather, but some of the scenes just felt like unconnected bits and pieces of a story.

I admire Favel Parrett’s writing enormously and there were parts of this that I felt were truly wonderful. But as a whole, I just don’t think I connected with it as much as I would have liked. And it’s a struggle for me to find things to say about it – there were bits I liked, there were bits that for me, just felt like they were there.


Book #162 of 2019

There Was Still Love is the 65th title read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019. 15 titles to go in order to succeed at my goal of 80 books.


2 responses to “Review: There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett

  1. Brona says:

    I had a similar reaction. I wanted to love it, but ended up feeling lukewarm.

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