85 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Mesmerising story, 7 May 2010
The novel opens with an emotional dilemma that gripped me heart and soul. Should Andrei treat an ill child even though he is putting the life of himself and his family at risk? After reading Dunmore's The Siege, it was good to be reunited with Anna and Andrei and see how their lives had turned out (though this book stands alone and you could go straight to it or read The Siege first). They are tender, likeable, brave characters, whose humanity puts them in danger. But this novel is not judgmental of the other characters who live under the restrictions of Stalin's Russia in 1952. We experience the tensions of such lives, the need for survival, the compromises and the unexpected moments of courage. The novel's atmospheric evocation of Russia, the powerful characterisation, and the tense dialogue all make this a good read. In the end,this is a love story that keeps you reading. I opened the book and couldn't stop - I had to know what happened to Anna,Andrei and Kolya. Sparely but poetically written - I feel as though I've seen Anna's green dress and walked in the cold streets with Volkov. I highly recommend this book. Afterwards, it kept going round in my head. A fantastic, emotional and life enhancing read.