Jana Poncarová is a successful Czech novelist who has truly mastered the art of the historical literary novel. Her second book, Eugenie, is based on the true story of hotel owner Eugenie Egertová Janečková and her life in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia during the Second World War. The author is a powerful storyteller who manages to inconspicuously weave historical details – from rising Nazi sentiments through wartime bombings up to the liberation of the city by the American army – together with the personal story of Eugenie herself. Her loveless arranged marriage, her struggle to play an active role in helping her husband run their hotel and finally her bravery in redefining her own sense of self after she is widowed, all play out in front of the reader’s eyes thanks to author’s striking language where luscious metaphors and flowing descriptions drip off the page like honey. The result is a powerful portrait of a woman whose inner strength, determination and intelligence allow her to navigate one of the darkest eras of modern history with grace and dignity. Reading her story will leave the reader feeling honored to have been a witness to a part of this woman’s life, wondering how come this book hasn’t been made into a film yet.
(Alžběta Belánová, translator)
Eugenie had lived an interesting life and the author has used it skillfully as basis to write an engaging and pleasant novel. The heroine is undoubtedly authentic and readers will respond to the delicate melancholy of an intelligent individual looking for her place in the world. Eugenie’s imperfections shown through her slight detachment from her children make her an ordinary woman who can be trusted. Her strength does not lie in her bravery or her selflessness but rather in her human desire to live a fulfilling life.
(Jitka Králová, editor at Mezizenami.cz)
Surely, one of the TOP books this year. The life story of hotel owner Eugenie gives me goosebumps, as does the backstory of the way the novel came to be written. These most unbelievable journeys can only be written by life itself.
(Martina Hudečková, copywriter and author of Creative Restart)
The story takes place during the German occupation and liberation [of Czechoslovakia] by the American army, which brings new hope and love into Eugenie’s life. Her fate rife with loss is told with big emotion, using many dialogues and descriptive passages, which perfectly pull the readers into the story and draw them closer to the period atmosphere, the psychology of the characters as well as their emotions. The storytelling is descriptive and authentic and bespeaks of the rich world inside the author’s mind.
(Taťána Kročková, editor at Kultura 21)