I Saw Her Last Night by Slovenian novelist Drago Jancar is part love story (between Stevan Radovanovic, a Serbian cavalry officer, and one unusual but very strong-willed woman Veronika, wife of the Stevan’s commanding officer’s close friend, Leo Zarnik, an influential businessman), and part mystery behind the disappearance of Leo and Veronika. The story is set during the tumultuous times of World War II in what was once Yoguslavia.
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Told from the perspective of five people in Veronika’s life – Stevan, Veronika’s mother, the German Army Doctor, the housekeeper, and Ivan, a workman in her manner- the book slowly unfolds what really happened during that fateful winter night of ’44 when the owners of the manor,( Leo and Veronika) went out for a ride, never to be seen again. Each story is like a puzzle piece that fits in perfectly with the one before, and with the one that awaits to be told.
Through these characters, the author has artfully mirrored the troubled Slovenian times before and during World War II, how the war took over and swallowed people irrespective of their belief, the chaos that came with the onset of communism, and how many were left with just guilt and a never-ending wait.
The narrative is beautiful and intriguing. The upheaval of the emotions is so naturally matched with that of the society. This is the reason that even though the author chose to tell the same story, set in the same time, by the people who are in some way interconnected, five times, it is hard to keep the book down.
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