Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

‘Independent Woman’ Memoir Opens Window into Yugoslavia


An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia: A Memoir

By Iris Novak

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

Pages: 327

Via: Author Request

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Kimber the Magnificent here asking “What’s an “irregular declension”? Can I eat it? I’m only asking cuz it showed up in a book Her Momness recently read, An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia.

“You do not see me. I am Kimber the Invisible!”

First thing I had to do was look up the location of Yugoslavia. (One of us knew it was in Southern/Central Europe. And about Tito. One of us is also old enough to remember Kosovo. So don’t laugh. Bet you had to look it up, too. So here ya go. You’re welcome.)

Knowing a bit about Yugoslavia is kind of important. Cuz this memoir is about  how the 20th century moved into the 21st century in that part of the world as seen through the eyes of author Iris Novak. Mom will pick it up from here:

Rough Start

Iris has a rough start in life. Her family is poor. Her grandmother radiates all the warmth of the Arctic Ocean. Her mother is as prickly as a box of pin cushions. Her grandfather drinks too much. Her violent father seems to make a habit of putting his hand through glass doors. Making matters worse is the constant verbal browbeating and nasty remarks Iris endures from her own family. According to them, she’s fat, clumsy, stupid, etc.

But Iris is none of the above as this touching and sometimes wrenching journey of self-discovery ably demonstrates as Iris navigates the bumpy road to adulthood. This includes school, friendships, peer pressure, a domineering grandmother, the death of her grandfather, learning English, romance, marriage, and a career.


The writing is sturdy and the timeline is easy to follow. The writing style takes some getting used to. If you’re familiar with Solzhenitsyn, Pasternak or Kafka, you’ll get it. You’ll also understand that the pace is rather ponderous. This book has its moments, opening a window into another time and place and beckoning readers to follow. It’s a worthwhile read. But the pace was just too slow to keep our interest.

Indeed, memoirs can be tricky. Unless you’re a president, the pope, or a pop star, nobody really cares what you had for breakfast or where you went to school. So we’re not going to rate this book. We’ll leave that up to you.

Kimber: Where is “Ljubljana,” anyway? Sounds delish. Wait. Do I smell kohlrabi?

2 thoughts on “‘Independent Woman’ Memoir Opens Window into Yugoslavia

  1. Sounds interesting. My sister is in the former area of Yugoslavia now. she’s been in Croatia and Slovenia visiting these past couple of weeks. Such an interesting place

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