Yet another book about an English language teacher in Brno I thought (yes there are others). I started the book and by about Chapter 3, had decided this one, though well written, probably wasn’t really my cup of tea – not really my sense of humor. I live in Brno and what might be deemed funny about the Czechs to someone who doesn’t is simply normal to me now. However, I persevered and I am really glad that I did.
Paul Simpson has a talent for writing witty conversation and in Eight Crowns to Brno he succeeds in creating a comedic conversation-driven story that in the end pulls you in and swallows you whole. Initially, the star character, James, came across as a clever know it all jack ass sort of English man always making fast quips and seeing comedy where most people probably wouldn’t. By the end of the book, he is someone you are pulling for and hoping for a good ending. It’s actually the unexpected twist towards the end that makes this book a great read and I cannot say anymore without giving too much away.
The other characters are all very recognizable to any Expat. Misfit Brits and Americans who end up in strange foreign countries teaching English to equally strange and quirky foreigners. They all certainly exist in Brno! Ladka is a well written character who is the perfect foil for James and with her Czech village mentality, pulls James unwittingly into the world of the living turning a character I had little initial sympathy for into someone you actually want to succeed. No mean feat for a first book.
I give the book 4-stars because for me it starts slow but Simpson finds his rhythm and style as the book progresses and by the end his writing is really compelling. I am looking forward to the further adventures of James and Ladka.