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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Paula Huntley didn't set out to write a book. In 2000, she and her law professor husband headed for Kosovo -- he to help the nation devise a new legal system, she to accompany him and find a way to be of use. Begun as an email journal to friends and family, who in turn forwarded it to others, The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo is Huntley's account of their months spent in the former Yugoslavian province, where events can range from mundane and inconvenient to inhuman and atrocious.
A marketing executive with nothing to market in a war-ravaged country, she begins teaching at a local English-language school. Inspired by the eagerness, genuineness, and curiosity of her small group of young Kosovar students, she finds a copy of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea -- the only one, she guesses, in the entire country -- and decides to use it as a text for a club she starts outside of class. The classic becomes a point of departure, as Huntley discusses the text with her students and reaches a true understanding of the challenges they face. Huntley, a dutiful reporter, conveys her Kosovo experiences with the careful eye of a gifted correspondent, but more important is her empathy. When she has to cut her year-long stay short by months, she records that one of her students sends her an email plea: "Don't forget us." Huntley won't. And thanks to her deeply felt storytelling, neither will we. Katherine Hottinger