A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True

Customer Reviews

617 Ratings

Overall Ratings

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5 out of 5 stars
By Sara on 11-22-16

The Old & New Worlds Converge & Transcend Time

This has to be one of my favorite books in a long time. The perfect blend of writing, audio production and narration made for an excellent audible experience. I don't know how I missed reading this until now--it has been around since 2009. I'm chalking it up to a terribly inaccurate audible editor review. Specifically, saying that the book is about Hitler invading Poland in the 1950s and that it is a fairy tale is misleading. No, I correct that--it is in my opinion absolutely idiotic. If you know any history (or if you can google) you know that Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939 AND that Hitler committed suicide in April of 1945. It most definitely would be pure fantasy and require lots of magic for him to have risen from the grave and invaded Poland in the 1950s. I mean really????

In truth the book is not a fairy tale, not a fantasy and not about magic. Instead, Pasulka has written a delicately powerful beauty. The focus is on love, family, struggle and the contrast and connections between the old world and the new post war and occupation world. It's about finding your way, bridging both worlds and living out the meaning of life. It is simply fantastic.

The set up of alternating chapters between Old Poland (the grandparents) and New Poland (the granddaughter) took some time to understand and settle into. Once I understood the format, the storytelling took over and I was captivated. The Old Poland chapters were read in a clear non-accented voice--a wonderful choice. The chapters about New Poland (1989) were narrated in a heavily accented voice and sprinkled with Polish words. I resorted to looking up some frequent words just so I could understand what was happening. Campbell did a superb job of making me feel I had traveled to Poland, didn't speak the language and had to work to understand the people. By the end of the book I really felt I knew the characters--a good part of that was due to Campbell's excellent narration.

Not to be missed. I loved every minute.

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76 of 83 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Melinda on 01-07-12

didn't know what to expect

This book gets 5 stars on Amazon.com and very high marks here...so I knew nothing about the book, so I thought I'd give it a listen...and I am SO glad I did. This is a WONDERFUL story and I can't imagine anyone not liking it. It's probably not for girls under 16 due to a scary rape scene, but other than that, it's pretty violence free, quite funny and I devoured it.

When I realized it was coming to the end I actually started the book over and waited to read the final 2 chapters fresh after reading the book a second time. It made the end...which is somewhat bittersweet...a LOT sweeter since I had just read this magical little book twice and was TWICE as eager to hear the last 2 chapters. I was NOT disappointed. I was gladdened... Such a wonderful book. I just didn't want it to end.

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48 of 55 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By StrayPup on 08-04-16

Three generations come of age in Poland

This is a beautifully-told, slowly-unfolding story of how the sacrifices of several families of Polish country people during WWII laid a foundation for the future generations of their families. There are two parallel stories. The grandparents' story in the WWII era sets the scene for the granddaughters' era in the 1990s.

The only factor that kept me from giving this novel five stars across the board is that it is excessively long. The grandparents' story is beautifully crafted and paced, but the story of the granddaughters contains some repetitive scenes that could have used some editing. The narrator is excellent and her nuanced storytelling skills kept me engaged during the tedious portions of the story. I would not have enjoyed the story as much if I had read the book. Still, it's a heartwarming tale and an interesting glimpse into the social and political changes in Poland from the 40s through the 90s.

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14 of 17 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Renny Barcelos on 04-08-13

Can I give it thousand stars?

Oh my, what a book! This story is so absurdly well written, well told, well constructed and well read that I cannot remember anything better.

Really, I can't imagine how my commute will happen tomorrow without Baba Yaga's and Anielica's company. It's hurting me not to have them anymore in my ears all the time.

I've said before--Cassandra Campbell is amazing, but she outdone herself here. This is a work of art! There were moments I wasn't sure if my eyes were welling up because of the story, because of Campbell's reading, or both. Poland has such a beautiful and sad story, I now want to know more about that country.

Thank you, Brigid Pasulka for writing this masterpiece, and thank you, Cassandra Campbell for narrating it so perfectly!

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28 of 35 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Victoria on 02-24-10

very touching

I have read many books now about WWII (just by chance.. The Reader, The Book Thief, The Power of One, etc.) and am always fascinated by the different fictional perspectives. What I love about it too are the various accents. This one was excellent. I have never heard a Polish accent, and the narrator did a fine job of switching from character to character.
The book is very well written, and I was completely absorbed. I highly recommend this one. Well worth the credit and the time.

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18 of 23 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Stephanie on 07-23-10

Great story even better with a fabulous narrator

Such a great book! It reminds me of the Book Thief (which we all loved, loved, loved!) in its historical perspective, but with a modern spin. It took a twist that I didn't see coming. I fell in love with all the characters, they were so well drawn, AND I got to impress my Polish co-workers with my new command of Polish slang. Listen to this one!!

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14 of 19 people found this review helpful

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