Fly, Honeybee, Fly: A Memoir
by Eva Robberts-Vankova

"It was a beautiful sunny day when I left the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic forever."

Born in Czechoslovakia, Robberts-Vankova enjoyed a childhood that seemed idyllic, almost magical at times. When her father, a dedicated Communist, became a diplomat, the family lived in Sweden where she once had dinner with the king. Then in 1968, Russia invaded Czechoslovakia to put down a simmering revolution. Her daily life became tense and fractured as her father’s high-profile communist loyalty was no longer viewed favorably, and classmates were suspicious of her. Robberts-Vankova began to see herself and her fellow citizens as animals in a zoo; everyone would be fed and housed and treated well as long as they obeyed. But punishment for disobedience was harsh, even fatal. She finally made her escape to what she called the Other World and from where, after some years, she has composed this enthralling reminiscence.

This modestly painted self-portrait shows Robberts-Vankova as an unusually sensitive, determined young woman. Though several people aided her along the way, it was she who made the decision to move to freedom. Beginning with scattered childhood memories, she reveals the undercurrent of fear and mistrust, even among schoolchildren, that gave her the impetus to flee. A remarkably adept writer, she has created a chronology showing her political, social, and intellectual development. By including her translations of her father’s poems, she conveys the impression that he secretly harbored doubts about the Czech regime and also felt regrets about his occasionally neglectful treatment of his wife and child. She writes joyfully of her husband, children, and life in Texas, concluding with a poignant fantasy of a happy reunion with her now deceased parents. Her well-crafted memoir will touch those who have shared any small portion of her experience, from childhood under Communist oppression to flirtatious young womanhood to maturity and peace in a new life after the disintegration of the old.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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