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Pears on a Willow Tree by Leslie Pietrzyk
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Pears on a Willow Tree (edition 1999)

by Leslie Pietrzyk

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Title:Pears on a Willow Tree
Authors:Leslie Pietrzyk
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Pears on a Willow Tree by Leslie Pietrzyk

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Four generations of women, beginning with Rose, a Polish immigrant, and ending with her great-granddaughter, Amy, explore how to relate to one another and to their common ancestry; how to hold on to the past, and how to let it go. We know there are men in these women's lives, but as in the second generation's orderly American homes, they are always in another room somewhere. This isn't their story. The viewpoint changes from one woman to another as the novel proceeds; most of the time this works very well, but occasionally, especially at the beginning, it was difficult to remember which voice I was listening to. One section where Amy, on holiday from her job teaching English in Bangkok, struck out alone on a sightseeing jaunt seemed glaringly out of synch with the rest of the novel, although it could easily stand alone as a very effective short story. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Aug 27, 2012 |
The story of the close knit Marchewska women beginning with Rose emigrating from Poland to Detroit in 1919 and bearing 4 daughters. Her mother dies soon after her departure, and in her grief she creates and enforces an environment of dependence and loyalty to family that holds firm for years. The families grow larger; living in the same neighborhood, seeing each other every day, shopping together. And the women spend hours in their kitchens preparing, cooking, canning and baking all year long.

It is Helen's daughter, Ginger, who breaks the mold and escapes what she feels is an overbearing, stifling and racist family environment in which everyone is expected to think the same way, do the same, day in and out. She moves to Phoenix and remains there returning only to visit every summer with her children. But her feelings of guilt for abandoning her mother and family is a high price to pay for freedom.

A good read about a strong family dynamic with women who are there for each other but who cannot understand or accept change. ( )
  Bookish59 | Aug 21, 2011 |
It was interesting reading about the Polish culture. Did not have any knowledge of that cultural before reading the book. It was a good book . ( )
  Moosewoman | Sep 17, 2010 |
Very good book about 4 generations of Polish women. ( )
  bookheaven | Sep 11, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380799103, Paperback)

Leslie Pietrzyk's Pears on a Willow Tree starts with a recipe for pierogi and ends with one for poppy-seed cake. In between, four generations of Polish-American women talk, cook, argue, sew each other's wedding dresses, tell stories, and understand and misunderstand each other in the way that only mothers and daughters can. Starting with iron-willed Rose, who emigrates from Poland, and ending with Amy, who flees the role of her alcoholic mother's keeper, the Marchewka women enact an ancient dance of embracing and rejecting the tradition they come from. "It is the girls who keep the family alive," Rose writes to her Polish mother; but it is also true that, as she later tells her great-granddaughter, "It's impossible for a good daughter to leave; it's impossible for a good daughter to stay." Many of the chapters in Pears on a Willow Tree were first published as stories, and they sometimes hang together a trifle too neatly, with none of a novel's usual depth or range. But Pietrzyk has a nifty, uncluttered prose style and above all a keen ear for the way women really do talk. Pears on a Willow Tree is a promising debut from a writer with a gift for the enduring art of domestic portraiture.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:14 -0400)

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Five generations of Marchewka women struggle to cope with the hardships of emigration and assimilation in twentieth-century America as they battle to preserve family traditions and deal with the realities of modern life.

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