I Served the King of England

I Served the King of England

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I Served the King of England 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Generally speaking, I don't enjoy novels translated into English as much of the eloquence and humor is lost in translation. However, I really liked this book by Bohumil Hrabal (translated by Paul Wilson). Although the book is based on the rise and fall of a fictional person, the historical background is real enough. We trace the personal history of a young man named Dite (which means child in Czech). The story begins during Czechoslovakia's first republic, the nation's golden age. Dite is working as a lowly busboy, but he has dreams and is ambitious. We are with him when he loses his virginity at the local bordello and meets his first love. Dite, always on the lookout to improve his wealth and status, takes a new job at a very prestigious elite hotel, where he meets a whole host of fascinating characters. Unfortunately, he loses his job, but lands a new one at the swank Paris Hotel in Prague (still exists by the way). He falls in love with a Czech citizen of German ethnicity - unfortunately in 1938 when the Germans had seized the Sudetenland and some Czechs had become extremely hostile toward all ethnic Germans. (Czechs have a long history of being occupied/exploited and are consequently xenophobic.) His girlfriend Lise is attacked by an angry Czech group, and Dite seeths with anger. The tables are turned, however, when the German army occupies Prague later that year, and Dite and Lise are being served by now subservient Czechs. Dite, despite being Czech, is nominally accepted into the ethnic-German community. His life begins taking a surrealistic turn when he lives in a Nazi-designated breeding town, Decin. Though once passionately in love with Lise, they are drawn apart as the pressures of war and Nazi ideology separate them. Typically, despite this, they have a little boy, which Dite later discovers to be somewhat retarded. When the war comes crashing through Bohemia, Dite's life with Lise lies in ruins, and he is jailed first by the Nazis and then by the Czechs. After many months in prison, he is released and is determined to start a new life. Dite takes all the substantial savings he has accumulated over the years and invests it in a rather fantastic idea for a hotel. His idea takes off and is hugely successful. Unfortunately, fate deals him another cruel hand as the communists come to power in 1948. Inexplicably, he turns himself in to be imprisoned with all the other successful bourgeois hotel owners he has worked for. After his stint in a monastery prison, he is exiled to the now-depopulated Sudetenland to work as a roadkeeper on a road going nowhere. The beginning of the book is fun, racy, and exciting, but as the book continues it becomes more sober, introspective, and melancholic - much like the life of an average man I suppose. Hrabal does a wonderful job of bringing characters to life and revealing much of the humor and sadness of everyday Czech life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was better than I had exspected. This is a story of a young boy who traveled to so many different places serving food as a waiter and the way he spent his money. I couldnt believe some of the things I read, the part where he goes to the hor house; he was so young. At times the story drags on and on and the author at times goes to far into detail on items. I felt like I was on a roller coaster the book speeds up and then slows down, pulling you in with its outragous stories and then dropping you only to be the end and making you want more. Trust me even though at times boring the storys this boy goes through are unreal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
its worth reading but once