The story of a celebrated Polish actress who persuades her friends to follow her to California to establish a simple farm commune and take pleasure in wholesome activity, In America is a tale of dreams, journeys, hope, and how to find one's self when one is without a proper country.
The novel is quite philosophical, spending a lot of time poking around in European perceptions of American culture, particularly theater. It also addresses the disconnect between European ideals of America and the actuality of the young country, the naiveté of aristocrats turned homesteaders, the choice of fidelity in marriage, and the nature of friendships.
The cast of characters are flawed, struggling, vaguely triumphant but not heroic, perhaps meant to mimic protagonist Maryna's famous tragic roles. All of them feel a bit grey, a bit forced, like type-actors on a stage. Unlike the popular Shakespearian roles, there is not a solid, definite end to this story. It fades to grey with Maryna growing old on stage, no mention of whether her husband has reconciled his cravings, no word of whether our heroine has found life or tied of it.
The whole book was slightly grey and flat, with stream-of-conciousness monologue that lasted pages unbroken even by paragraphs. These were interspersed with journal entries, letters, and more typical descriptive prose.
I was interested by the storyline and musings of the chief character, but never captivated. Too bad; I was prepared to enjoy it immensely.
Serendipity and silkworms:
9 months ago