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A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer Dubois
A Partial History of Lost Causes
The Dial Press
It just doesn’t get much better than this.
You might decide, as I did when I first picked up this unassuming masterpiece, that life was too short to read a book about a woman with an inherited horrible disease and a Russian chess champion. You might put it down, or you might, as I did, decide to read the first bit, about a boy arriving in Leningrad after an unimaginable train journey from his home town. And then you’d keep reading, and perhaps, like I did, slow down a bit, to prolong the pleasure that radiates from one of those novels that not only traps you in its orbit, but also subtly changes the angle at which you view the world, that dazzles you so consistently with the power of its language, its characters, its ideas and its backbone that you don’t want to come to the end of it.
It is hard to credit that this accomplished and silk- smooth book is a first novel. It is wise and elegant, and achingly beautiful.
The two main characters are brought to life with indelible precision and generosity of spirit, and the supporting cast is stellar. The characters propel the book with perfect pace; they are believable and admirable.
So well formed are the characters, so mesmerizing is the writing, that it is easy to overlook the fact that this is a novel of philosophical potency, an examination of how to live one’s life.
A Partial History of Lost Causes is a novel of remarkable power and resonance, from a writer of uncommon talent.
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