A.M. Bakalar - Madame Mephisto

Madame Mephisto - A.M. Bakalar

If you are looking for likeable characters in your novels, you're best to skip Madame Mephisto, because Magda, the narrator, is not one of them. And frankly, she doesn't give a damn. She might be over thirty but she is still stuck a little in the teenage angry rebellion phase. 

Magda is from Poland but she long left it and its provincial ways behind her. Or did she? 
She might be making her fortune in London as a savvy drug baroness cum smart suit wearing city worker but Poland got deep under her skin. She is convinced she has been wronged by her homeland and she breaks into angry rants frequently. Their focus is usually Poland but no one is safe from Magda's wrath, neither British, nor Orthodox Jews. We meet her as she makes a reluctant return to Poland to attend a funeral. As she waits for it, she shares her life story with her companion whose identity remains secret.

Magda might not know what she wants but she is clear about the things she doesn't want. She doesn't want to be everything her twin sister is. Even though Alicja is the only person Magda seems to genuinely care about, she rejects her lifestyle completely; the safe career path, the husband, the baby, and that sickening conformity. If Magda can't match Alicja's achievements as a good and productive citizen, she will just do her best to be the exact opposite even is she destroys herself in the process. She is a kicking and screaming narrator who is not to be trusted. A notorious liar, she makes her own legend and holds her grudges close to her at all times. She never forgets. 

How did a country who gave the world John Paul II and all that is good and true managed to produce this she-devil of an offspring? Magda is a sum of all Polish grievances and frustrations and an interesting study on self-destruction.