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Valeria's Last Stand

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  556 Ratings  ·  178 Reviews
Valeria is a whale in a puddle. She harrumphs her daily way through her backwater Hungarian village, finding equal fault with the new, the old, the foreign, and the familiar. Her decades of universal contempt have turned her into a touchstone of her little community—whatever she scorns the least must be the best, after all. But, on a day like any other, her spinster’s hear ...more
Kindle Edition, Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published September 5th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2009)
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I must say, I didn't know just what to expect from this book, but overall, I liked it. It reminded me of a farce along the lines of Oscar Wilde. So many misunderstandings, changes of heart,silliness.... I liked the characters and...liked that they were older folks still willing and capable of behaving badly when smitten by cupid's arrow even at their age. It showed that passion still abounds in the geriatric set. Some may find that offensive- I found it wonderfully refreshing- and true.

At first
Feb 29, 2016 Petra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, that was disappointing. This started out mildly humorous, with possibility of a light brain-cleansing type of read. It quickly deteriorated into jealousies, nastiness and petty entire village of people who can't seem to behave in any normal fashion and are always out to get someone for something petty. In between these situations, is detailed information that has nothing at all to do with what's going on.
Oh well, there is one good thing that came out of this reading: this
Apr 30, 2011 Chrissie rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Maybe those who enjoy slapstick humor. I do not!
This book disappointed me! I thought I would get something similar to A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, but it totally lacked the charm and humor of the latter. The humor in this book is slapstick. This isn't the type of humor that amuses me.

The story is about a love affair, actually several love affairs, between people in their 50s and 60s. These people should have learned something from their life experiences. They act worse than silly, immature young adults. Older people do act just
Dec 13, 2010 Daisy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daisy by: saw it on the giveaway but I didn't win it
Shelves: hungary
Like a slapstick fable. Almost cartoonish. But the language is sweet and there's plenty to quote (see below!) that's humorous and makes you ponder. It's sweet and hopeful. The moral of the story? I'm still summing it up.

Ibolya had even found a teacup. A porcelain teacup. Not made in a small village studio but from one of the big porcelain houses in the country. She wiped the dust off of it and set it in front of him.
"Where did you get that?" one of the men asked.
"Do you like it?" she asked the p
This is a charming little book—there's nothing ground-breaking about it, but it was still an enjoyable read. Set in a forgotten village in Hungary just after the fall of Communism, Valeria's Last Stand is a story about a bawdy, light-hearted love rectangle between four older people. For those of you UK/Irish out there, it reminded me quite a bit of Last of the Summer Wine, except with more explicit sexual references. Largely forgettable (though I did like the fact that the women in this book all ...more
Jul 05, 2014 Ksenija rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A curiously interesting book. It has a quite peculiar sort of crude, broken narrative that may irritate the reader at the beginning. However, I found myself going through the pages of this book unhindered by crave to reach the finale. This sort of writing style reminded me of a move script slammed with occasional notes from the production team.

As some of the previous reviewers remarked, it is difficult to sympathize with particular characters, but I think that is mostly because of the fact that
Bob H
Dec 04, 2014 Bob H rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this astonishing, brilliant first novel, the author creates a village peopled by vivid and unforgettable characters. Although it's set in Hungary in the 1990s, in a place bypassed by history and set in its ways, the book makes it all seem familiar, warm, and entirely believable. Simply stated, after a lifetime of mundane work and gossip, the town potter and the village hag fall in love, and Zivatar is never the same after that. Even the coming of the railroad and of EU-era progress seems of l ...more
Terence Hawkins
Nov 28, 2010 Terence Hawkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interlocking love triangles among aging peasants in a hamlet on the Hungarian plain just after the Iron Curtain rolled up.

Sounds dismal, right?


In this stunning debut novel Marc Fitten does for the Magyar village what Isaac Bashevis Singer did for the Polish shtetl, but funny. He brilliantly evokes a time come and gone but a place that's always been there, a gossipy middle of nowhere always trying to find its footing in a changing world. In the village of Zivitar, in the mid 90's, the 68 y
Claudia Robinson
“It was as though she had stepped into her familiar yard when the sun was at a certain angle, and there, right in front of her, at the base of a tree she had looked at countless times, a precious stone that had always been there glinted and caught her eye.”

~ Marc Fitten, Valeria’s Last Stand

The very moment I cracked the spine of Valeria’s Last Stand I knew I was in for something magical. Marc has an uncanny ability to weave words and beguile his reader until real life and novel become seamles
Feb 20, 2015 Tracey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 3-star
This was an impulse buy at a library sale - gorgeous jacket, a story that sounded fun, worth a shot. And it was fun. Mostly.

The Valeria of the title is a woman in her 60's who one day, while pursuing her usual self-imposed quality-control patrol in the village market, falls in love at not-exactly-first sight. She has long been renowned as the village's bitterest, crankiest soul, and now love - or at least lust - brings an unexpected softening. But love's path is not smooth: the long-widowed pot
May 06, 2009 Theresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Darling book! Great characters, too. Marc Fitten's sense of humor is dry and charming. This is an easy to read book that is delightful amidst all of the deep, dark and overwritten books that are out there. Plain and simple, Valeria's Last Stand is about the people of a quaint village in the plains of Hungary where nobody has bothered the inhabitants for centuries. Damages from the war even bypassed the town.

The story revolves around an old crotchety lady who finds love under strange consequences
Jul 07, 2009 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Set in a small village in Hungary, this is the story of the locals; their socializing and their meager way of life. And it is not a story that is only central to Valeria, it is about these villagers of Zivatar which is a tiny town that time and technology has left alone, save for the mayor's meager efforts. The characters we meet are interesting to read about, though not many are instantly likable. There are some female characters with names while the men simply go by their profession: the potte ...more
I gave this book two stars because I honestly found it okay. I thought that it could have done more of some things and less of others.

The author's writing style was, for the most part, pretty good. There were a couple of parts which I thought could have been better, but it was otherwise okay. Sometimes there would be a paragraph that was phrased really well and struck an emotional chord, but there were so few of these.

I found the plot of this novel imbalanced. The love story was more passionate
Inauspiciously sitting on my library's book shelf, was a copy of Fitten's "Valeria's Last Stand". I picked it up, read a little and was hooked.

The artwork on the book's cover depicts some major motifs of the book: a black pitcher, turnips, peppers, a bicycle, a milk urn.... In and of themselves, these are not wholly engrossing subjects to read about. However, significant events attach themselves to these common items making them resonate with an appeal that makes you think about them more and t
Mar 03, 2009 Babs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first 20 pages of this book, I thought,"Oh, no, this book is going to be horrible. I can't believe I have to an ARC review on it!" But, the book got much better, and I enjoyed it! The book has some central themes that are presented in an entertaining manner: the transition from a communist/socialist society to a capitalist society; the older generation's feelings about the end of their golden age; corrupt politics - presented in a fable/fairy tale style. Valeria, the crusty old woman, gr ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Valeria’s Last Stand could be described as a late 20th century Hungarian mix of a Isaac Bashevis Singer short story and Marina Lewycka’s “The Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.” The story is set in the very small, out-of-the-way village of Zivatar in the days after the fall of the USSR. The town is full of randy men and women who work, drink, romp, and complain through life. There might be some messages there about love and about change, but not necessarily. The writing style is what makes ...more
Laszlo Hopp
Jan 25, 2015 Laszlo Hopp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 06, 2009 Lacresha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book as part of the Goodreads giveaway. I really enjoyed it and finished it in no time. I don't want to ruin the book and put in any spoilers, but let me just say that I've never enjoyed a book about a distant village so much.

It's been awhile since I read of dowry's and dreams of opening pubs, and pottery. You'll find yourself loving each character for their strengths and their weaknesses. In fact, several characters reminded me of myself.
Jun 26, 2009 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am on a really great roll with fiction choices. This is another astonishingly good book, fable really, set in a tiny town in newly capitalizing Hungary. The leading character is tough to love but, as it turns out, everyone ends up doing just that. The characters are unusual in their depth for such a short novel. The author tells us in his afterword that the characters are composites of himself and his wife which is very juicy in itself.
Dec 20, 2015 L rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book's charm follows in the same vein as the Helen Mirren movie, "Calendar Girls." A quirky, older, lovably stubborn woman has her life swept up by change in a place seemingly untouched by time. Although the story's setting is Hungary, I could almost see an intractable Maggie Smith defiantly belting out some of Valeria's lines. This is what I refer to as a "Little Old British Lady Story." And this is at the top of the genre.

Fitten effectively creates an entire town steeped in superstition a
Marilyn Saul
I purchased this book simply because my mom's name was Valeria and you just don't see that name often. As for the book, it was a delightful look into a small village that had been overlooked by the War (II), its quirky occupants, a skilled potter who finds he is an artist, a curmudgeon old woman (Valeria) who begins to live, and other artful characters. It was well written and (except for way too much time spent on the chimney sweep) a pleasant read. Nothing earth shattering. I hesitate to use t ...more
Cathy Grobbelaar
Picked up this book for R26.00 at a bookshop sale. Thought "why not" for the price. Thouroughly enjoying every page and will be putting it into our bookclub.
Sep 19, 2009 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A great fairy tale, European history, and love story for the over 60 set.
Junkie for the Written Word
Feb 05, 2010 Junkie for the Written Word rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like to laugh
Shelves: good-books
A genuinely funny book. I’ve had a good 2010 when it comes to books so far and this one is adding to my streak. I like to pick up books by new authors because you never know when you’re going to find something new and unexplored. Valeria’s Last Stand is that. It's seriously funny, there were times I actually had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard. Be warned though, it’s not the stupid funny some people enjoy, it’s a comedy for grown ups, which is so rare since most funny books s ...more
Geoffrey Philp
May 25, 2011 Geoffrey Philp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can take the writer out of the Caribbean, but you can’s take the Caribbean out of him. Even in the second generation. At least that was my impression after I read Valeria’s Last Stand by Marc Fitten.

Set in post-Communist Hungary, Valeria’s Last Stand, is ostensibly a love triangle involving the main character, Valeria, a potter, and the buxom tavern wench, Ibolya Nagy: “She arranged her top right in front of them. Her pillowy breasts shook while she adjusted her blouse. The men were mesmeriz
Jun 07, 2009 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. Having now finished it, the best rating I can give it is average. The story overall largely reads as a crazy love square/quadrangle of aging Hungarians. The tale spares no details in their sexual escapades, nor does it have a shortage of other "colorful" language. The main character Valeria is an entertaining one who undergoes an intense personality change through the course of the book.

However, what kept me interested was the secondary story regardi
Aug 24, 2010 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was one of the fortunate readers to win a copy of "Valeria's Last Stand" from the Goodreads giveaway. "Valeria's Last Stand" by Marc Fitten is a story about the Hungarian village of Zivatar. The book has the feel of a fable where the colorful characters are known as "the potter", "the apprentice" and the chimney sweep". The story is about Valeria, a 68 year old woman who comes across as being grouchy, set in her ways and having a multitude of dislikes. One day at the market, Valeria bumps into ...more
May 18, 2009 Christy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was so pleased to be chosen to read this book as an advanced copy. However, I would not recommend it to anyone who wanted to read a book of substance, to be provoked into thought, or to learn something. It was funny how, notwithstanding the time the author put into developing the characters, I still never felt a connection with them or found them to be truly interesting or believable. I read another review that said it was basically a love quadrangle about a bunch of old folk, and that much is ...more
Apr 24, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first glance, Marc Fitten’s novel "Valeria’s Last Stand" is a love quadrangle. But between the layers of love sought and passion denied is a deeper truth reminding us that unrequited love does not belong solely to the individual—love not returned from community or government can wound the heart as well.

In a Hungarian village, “deep in the steppes, in the middle of nowhere,” sixty-eight year old Valeria spends her days cleaning, judging her neighbors and criticizing the country’s move from so
Nov 23, 2010 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really odd, quirky fable of a story and is Marc Fitten's first novel. Set in a tiny village in post-communist Hungary it is filled with wonderful characters who spend much of lives fighting, drinking and loving.

Valeria, the main character, is a spinster in her late sixties - she hates and is hated, she doesnt mince her words and puts the fear of God into most of the villagers with her sharp tongue and her constant put-downs. However, Valeria's heart begins to melt when one day she tak
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Marc Fitten has published nonfiction in The New York Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the International Herald Tribune. VALERIA'S LAST STAND, his debut novel, was published in ten countries, was a German bestseller, and was shortlisted for The Boeke Prize in South Africa. His second novel, ELZA'S KITCHEN, was published in June 2012.
More about Marc Fitten...

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