Gail Cooke's Reviews > Vaclav & Lena

Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner
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Jun 10, 2011

it was amazing

Affecting, poignant, unforgettable all describe Haley Tanner's wonderful debut novel VACLAV & LENA. One would be hard-pressed to think of anyone who would not be touched by her story, especially when read by two such talented actors as Kirby Heyborne and Rebecca Lowman.

A gifted and versatile performer Heyborne has received acclaim for not only his acting but his music (four solo albums) and his comedy. Lowman brings a wealth of stage, film and television experience to her narration. An inimitable pairing for this narration! Listen as they introduce us to Vaclav and Lena who first meet as children when they're enrolled in an English as a Second Language class in Brooklyn. Both are six-year-old Russian immigrants.

Drawn to one another they begin to play a game. He is to be a magician; she will be his assistant. Every day after school they practice their act; they grow closer and make promises. For instance, when they perform on the boardwalk at Coney Island they'll be billed as Vaclav the Magnificent and his assistant, the Lovely Lena. Another vow is that they will be together forever.

Vaclav's mother, Rasia, is sympathetic toward Lena who has no family but lives in an apartment with an aunt. Rasia walks Lena home every night after supper and is aware of the messy shabbiness of Lena's apartment as well as the unsavory way her aunt makes a living.

One day Lena does not show up for class. Rasia is stunned with what she finds when she goes to look for her and cannot bring herself to tell the frantic Vaclav the truth. Time passes until Vaclav is 17 and his phone rings - it is Lena. Yes, they are together again yet in Tanner's gifted hands there is more to come.

VACLAV & LENA is a love story that reminds us of the strength and redemptive power of love.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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