Thursday, February 16, 2006

Paula Fox: The Coldest Winter: A Stringer in Liberated Europe

I had really high hopes for this book. The potential for greatness is definitely present. Reading about the experiences of a young woman writing in postwar Europe is a subject that sparks the imagination. Unfortunately, The Coldest Winter is more of an outline than a memoir.

Fox makes statements about things she experineces and then fails to develop her ideas. There is also very little reference to Fox's experiences as a writer. In fact, if not for the second part of the title, the reader would be hard-pressed to explain what, exactly, Fox was doing in Europe in the first place. It seems that Fox moved from country to country fairly frequently. Very little page time is given to any one place, keeping the reader from getting a feel for the atmosphere of any one place.

People Fox encounters are barely introduced, ideas are never fleshed out, and the few complete narratives of individual experiences are small and alone in the desert of Fox's seemingly unfinished work. Despite these horrors, Fox does write her few sentences in an engaging manner. Perhaps if there had been more of these lovely sentences devoted to her skeleton-book the work could have been saved. The lack of cohesiveness and completion The Coldest Winter suffers from would almost certainly keep it from being published if it had been written by someone who was not an award-winning author already.

D-

I promise I will write a positive reveiw eventually. I've just had a short run of bad luck. I do have a growing backlog of books to write about - I'll try to catch up on that soon.

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