he beginning of Final Decree takes us back to the 1940s and the village of Bugyi in the Carpathian mountains. It is here we learn of the legendary Uncle Harcsa and his reputation for strength and cunning. This background introduces us to Kazmer Harcsa, his nephew, and carries us through rough political and social times, leading us to Kazmer's arrival in Canada.
Although Kazmer has a beautiful (and much younger) wife Petrona, and two young children with her, their marriage ends up falling apart. The problem between them is an issue which rests at the core of this novel - the class between traditional and modern values and morals. Kazmer, not surprisingly, still holds to his old world ways and has difficulty adjusting to his new life with Petrona. She is too modern for Kazmer's liking, and problems soon erupt.
That doesn't give away the book at all, though. The plot surrounds Kazmer and Petrona's divorce and we are made privy to Kazmer's reflections on life as he faces the past, or is reminded of it. We are constantly shown exactly how old world Kazmer is through these flashbacks, and George Jonas has done an excellent job getting us inside this complex character's head. Although Kazmer initially appears to be a fairly simple character, a naive peasant immigrant, we quickly realize how insightful and wily Kazmer really is.
Final Decree was first published in 1981, but the year doesn't play a crucial role to the plot. The story Final Decree tells is one that covers decades, probes deeply into morality, and explores the way we approach relationships with others. George Jonas is skilled at telling a simple story which is rich in detail and history. As well, Jonas presents the reader with seemingly simple-minded characters whose emotional and psychological complexities unravel throughout the narrative to produce a compelling read.
published by key porter books