Authors Showcase: The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty
June 28, 2015
The Book: The Bone Church
The Author: Victoria Dougherty
The Story: In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life.
As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.
But the assassination attempt goes wildly wrong, propelling the lovers in separate directions.
Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets.
As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.
About Victoria Dougherty:
Victoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere.
Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Review by Diogenes:
The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty is a beautifully crafted piece of fiction. Set largely in and around Prague, the narrative alternates between the time of the Nazi occupation and specific events in 1956 when Czechoslovakia was under the heel of the Soviets. The central concept deals with the lengths people will go to in order to survive in an inhuman landscape.
The writing is spare and tense, with an authentic Eastern European feel. The Sword of Damocles hangs over the heads of the main characters, Felix and Magdalena, and the reader is drawn skilfully into a world of mistrust and paranoia. The threat of betrayal is ever-present. The twisting narrative – enhanced by its time-dislocated structure – is claustrophobic and dark, a meditation on suffering and redemption.
At times, I was put in mind of the works of Milan Kundera, while the novel also has something of Graham Greene’s The Third Man about it. The Church of All Saints (the ‘Bone Church’ of the title) sits at the metaphorical core of the book, a constant reminder of impermanence and mortality. Like Eliot, and Webster before him, Ms Dougherty knows well the skull beneath the skin, and how life and death elide.
Review by Kinx’s Book Nook:
The Bone Church is a very poignant story of survival and love lost during and after World War II. Felix and Magdalena’s story seems heartbreaking at every turn. I wish I got say that love conquers all; everything but the Nazis and the Soviets.
There is so much passion in the book; passion for ways of life, country and spirituality. Felix really embodies all of that throughout the book. I love his spirituality and his ability to connect at different levels of perception. He receives at help from so many sources; real and mystic. He never gives up and his ability to survive does him credit in so many ways.
Of all of the characters portrayed in The Bone Church, Srut really stood out to me. He has such a strong sense of what is right and wrong; according to Srut. He is loyal to the people he trusts which are few. He will go to great length and sacrifice to save “his” people. He is a wonderful character and should be appreciated.
The Bone Church is a character in of itself. The author gave the reader some vivid images of what this church was. I loved how everything comes full circle at The Bone Church. Everything is resolved at The Bone Church.
The Bone Church is a wonderful book about a horrible time in the world’s history. But at its heart is survival and loyalty. It will stay with me for a long time