Every now and again, there is a book that fills one with so much rage it is almost impossible to finish.
This was that book.
At times it read like a colonialist book about a ‘savage’ country. When not exoticising everyone (especially the women) he meets or even glimpses from afar as they do not conform to his standards, Moran uses as many sources as possible to show that he understands the country’s history and, by extension, its present.
From the introduction, in which he feels he has to justify writing the book, my blood started to boil. As the book progressed, Moran’s inability to get his head around cultural differences frustrated me. I know he was out there in the 90s’ but DUDE! You’re in Central Europe! In the 1990s’, not the 1890s’! Large numbers of married women working in business and STEM subjects should not boggle your mind.
At first, he and his English colleagues despair of how they will ever meet single women as all the attractive ones seem to be in relationships. (Is this where JKR got those throwaway lines for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?) But fear not, reader! Moran meets Zosia, a married woman who is looking for some passionate lovin’.
How do we know she’s looking for passion?
Because “Polish women are extraordinarily intense sexually”. Well gee, Moran. Thanks for summarising the sex drive of the gender of one country so succinctly.
In an attempt to ‘get down with the locals’ in the post-Communist era, he does what we would all do. He gets in his Rolls-Royce and sets off on an epic adventure, leaving no corner of the country unexplored.
His descriptions verge on the Orzeszkowan: rippling grasses, purple skies and peasants labouring in their forebears’ fields. Every palace, every garden reminds him of some uneclipsable Western European treasure.
Though his opinions of contemporary Poland left me fuming, Moran did (to his credit), write well about the country’s history. Chopin’s contribution to music was very extensively covered. The realities and the impact of WWII were heart-breakingly explored and footnotes have introduced me to a few other texts about the country that I would like to read.
Moran was capable of quoting the Polish, (eg.) “Victory is to be defeated but not to surrender”, [Piłsudski] but not very perspicacious when it came to understanding what was happening around him.
Read for: Rose City Reader’s, ‘European Reading Challenge’.