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The Breaking of Eggs

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  654 ratings  ·  105 reviews
The Breaking of Eggs is the story of the curmudgeonly Feliks Zhokovski, Polish by birth, Communist at heart, who at age 61 finds that just about everything he has based his life on is crumbling. Separated from him family as a child when the Nazis invaded Poland, Feliks is currently living in Paris and his life's work is a travel guide to the old Eastern bloc. But ...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published July 27th 2010 by Penguin Books
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  654 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fantastic novel and one of the most consequential and significant works I have ever read.

This is a very quiet story about very important things.
I absolutely love the way Powell is dealing with his his themes. The novel depicts a character on the cusp of a major life transition, and mirroring that is the world community as it begins its ponderous, yet inevitable, shift toward world wide consumer capitalism.
What could be a simple polemic on the benefits of leftist ideology really
Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Serviceably written. But no moments where I wanted to savor the words. At times it felt like a thinly disguised political screed. Way too many repetitive interior mullings by the principal character, Feliks. Plot was fascinating, if a bit contrived. All in all an entertaining read, but not a great one.
Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Daisy by: Shelfawareness
This book has been on the top of a stack of books I pass every day many times over the past few years. Its cover is so familiar that I almost can't separate what I thought it would be from what it turned out to be. Coincidentally, that's one of the themes of this novel as well.
Now, it's not that I wish I had gotten to this sooner; it's that I hope every other as-yet unread book on my shelves will fulfill me as well as this one. There is a lot to think about in this book.

"I think I have changed,"
Maya Panika
Apr 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I guess you could call my slightly lower rating than usual the disappointment that came with incorrect expectations of what I was actually reading - whenever a book cover blurb claims the work is "funny but touching" it is really trying to disguise often the idea that some people won't read serious fiction unless they're pushed to.

People like me that is, who after reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz temporarily had a love affair with late 20th Century themed nostalgia
May 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Three point five.

I appreciated what the author was trying to do here, though the overall effect was marred because several of the key characters lacked credibility. The central character is clueless, befuddled, insular, and rigid in nearly all his attitudes toward life and his fellow humans. When the Berlin Wall comes down, it sets in motion events that force him to undertake some much-needed soul-searching. The plot is intriguing and deftly-handled, for the most part.

(view spoiler)
Laura McNeal
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book because of the setting and the subject, but I found the prose frustratingly boring and colorless. There are so few sensory details about any of the places Feliks goes that he might as well not be there at all. You could argue that Feliks simply doesn't experience the world that way, and that he, himself, is boring, but to me that made him a capitalist's caricature of a Communist, someone who is more concerned with political ideals than with things people want and feel. ...more
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
As strange as it is to say, the narrator -- a 61 year old Polish communist living in France in 1991 -- reminded me a lot of myself. I think that's why I connected to the book so much. Feliks lives in a strange self-created bubble, and as the bubble pops, he has to deal with the ramifications of the life he sheltered himself from and the choices he made/didn't make.

It is hard for Americans to understand the mindset of post-World War II Europe. Yes, we fought in the war, many, many brave men and
Dead John Williams
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, my-favs
The Breaking Of Eggs This was the monthly book in the Book Discussion Scheme that I belong to.

I did not enjoy reading this book because the main character is so annoying that every page grates. I wanted to shake him and shout in his face, 'Wake Up!"

If that was the authors intent then 'well done that man'.

It was the same considered opinion of the others in the group too. Only one person actually enjoyed reading it. What really astounded me though was the discussion that followed about this book.
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: read something else instead
Entirely forgettable first novel that doesn't seem to quite know what it is trying to say. Via a retrospective tour of the predictable milestones of twentieth-century European history we are meant to share in the realisation of the central character's Communist naivety yet all his 'teachers' - the elder brother who abandoned him with his Nazi uncle in favour of fleeing to the capitalist West, the French agent who entraps him into unwittingly betraying his comrades with false promises about the ...more
Scott Lupo
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
I was given this book from a vendor who was speaking at a meeting about how to give quick summaries of books to entice others to read it. He summarized this book as "A coming of age story about a 60-year old communist man in today's world" (or something like that). Well, it was that and more. This is really a charming book about an older man who hasn't changed in 40 years until suddenly he begins examining his life and revealing secrets that challenge his intellectual and emotional foundations. ...more
I often hear friends talk about "reinventing" themselves which often means moving to a new place or starting a new job. The main character in Breaking of Eggs, Feliks, does more than reinvent himself; he has to confront information that changes his core beliefs and very identity. The book is mostly about this transformation, and as a result is descriptive and philosophical. Even when the reader first meets Feliks with his communist views and rigidity he is still a sympathetic character and I was ...more
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Increasing enough,a bit slow in the first half and then lots crammed into the second, but a bit like the main character maybe it was just slow to open up.
A good way of telling the story of war from several angles, and its effect on all.
Glen Thickett
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great characters in a thoughtful, comic, tragic journey of self-discovery.
Renita D'Silva
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Another one of those I did not expect to like but fell in love with. Will be reading more from this author.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Feliks Zhukovski, a 61 year old man of Polish descent, lives in Paris as a writer of a travel guide to Eastern Europe. Once a member of the Communist Party, and still a self-proclaimed leftist, his life starts unravelling after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism. He is forced to re-evaluate his life and redefine his place in a world where all his previously held convictions no longer seem so tenable.
This is an engaging and compelling account of one man’s journey of
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
At the age of 61, Féliks is confronted by changes that undermine his long-held beliefs in Communism and his solitary existence in Paris.

The sale to an American company of the travel guide to the Eastern bloc that Féliks set up and updated every year for decades sets in motion a chain of events that lead to unprecedented changes and upheaval in Féliks' life. Along with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism across Europe. Féliks' staunchly held views are challenged and
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
An exploration of Felks Zhukovski's emotional life at the age of 60 when his world is turned upside down. Separated from his family at the age of 9 at the outbreak of World War II, he identifies with communists first and then "leftists" and becomes the sole author and publisher of a travel guide to the Eastern bloc, traveling from his apartment in Paris. In 1991, when the Soviet state has collapsed, and East Germany is shown not the economic miracle he had imagined, he can no longer continue his ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclub
Five star! is this a first for me? Found this easy to read but challenging vocabulary - had to look up meanings a few times. Also challenging political concepts, communism, Stalinism, Americanism, Christianity but in a soft ideological discussion punctuated with some harsh true life experiences. Followed Feliks through his encapsulated lonely ideological life to his expansion into emotions and feelings with the lovely Kristin and their rebellious daughter.
Jim Towle
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't like Feliks Zhukovski, but I felt I understood him very well.
As I read I felt a particular kinship with him. I know what it is to have one's world turned upside down and inside out.
The book provides the reader with brief history of post WWII Europe and an insight into how the "common folks" of the continent navigated the social currents that were flowing over Europe after the war.
Sora O'Doherty
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, but I can't for the life of me remember who recommended it to me! If the unexamined life is not worth living, this is an elegant story about examining one's life and rendering it worth living. Highly recommend.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The history portion of the book is fascinating, but it was a little slow for me.
Jill Schroeder
Apr 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer June
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking exploration of the stories we tell ourselves and the impacts they have on our lives.
Kate Throp
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Couldn’t finish it, it just made me miserable.
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: polish
Feliks Zhukovski undergoes a transformation at 61 years of age, better late than never... he journeys back through his life and uncovers lost family ties that perished during WWII. Assumptions, memories and regrets surface and fill his life with emotions and attachments unknown to him through most of his existence as a travel writer. Not only is he forced to come to terms with the foundations of his personal life built on feelings of abandonment, but the walls of his political and idealistic ...more
Sep 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The late 1980s/early 1990 saw the collapse of the communist states in Europe; symbolised most potently by the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Democracy and capitalism poured into a myriad of new states and countries and everything became well with the world again. But, as usual in these economic and political upheavals very little if any thought is given to the peoples going through the upheavals. In this novel, 61 year old Feliks Zhukovski, Polish born, long term resident of Paris and citizen ...more
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
"My dam had well and truly burst...water seeping beneath the carapace into the furthest recesses of my life", July 27, 2016

This review is from: The Breaking of Eggs: A Novel (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book - a gripping storyline and very intelligent writing.
Narrated by Feliks Zhukovski, a curmudgeonly elderly bachelor who has lived in the same rented Paris apartment for the past 36 years, the reader is aware from the first sentence that an interesting tale lies ahead: "I suppose that
May 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ww2, read-in-2012
There were some wonderful stories buried in this book, and yet I found it quite difficult to read. Whilst well written, the pace was sometimes unbearably slow, and the dry musings and political views of Feliks Zhukovski, the novel's narrator, made him a difficult character to warm towards or engage with. This was a real shame, since the subject matter offered a lot of potential - especially when exploring the circumstances which led to Felik's and his brother Woody's separation from their mother ...more
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“I think I have changed," I said.
"I think changes have happened to you," said Kristin. "But that is not the same thing...”
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