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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2012
A dull reference book of an historic time in Romanian history that must have been a rich vein for literacy,whether fact or fiction.The author gives you the impression of being at best on the periphery, if present at all.
Lacks drama,intrigue,plot,suspense.
A struggle to finish.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2011
Hard to believe there's anything better than this on the Booker long-list.
McG brings Ceausescu's Romania alarmingly to life - if that's the word for
the squalid and destructive 'ineptocracy' the doomed dictator presided over.
Full of vivid and plausible characters - Leo O'Heix, in particular, who plays
Virgil to the narrator's Dante through this underworld, is a terrific creation,
wise, foolhardy and usually drunk. Very sure-footed for a debut novel and
must be worth a bet for the big one.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2012
In December 1989 I, an 11-year-old boy in Moscow, watched on the Soviet TV news how the Romanian people threw off the yoke of command-administrative rule by an old dictator and were about to march into some ill-defined Gorbachev-y bright future (Gorbachev despised Chiao [rhymes with Mao, a common nickname for the Romanian leader among our Central Committee officials responsible for Eastern Europe] and wanted him gone).

The future turned out less brighter than expected; a lot of Belangers showed up too. In this novel, the author does a good job in exploring the tired society and the country turned into apocalyptic building ground by the leader unmoored from common sense. The ending is known, and it takes too many pages for McGuinness to get to it. The narrator could've been drawn better, as the previous reviewers have mentioned.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2014
I enjoyed this novel a lot. Masses of atmosphere and interest. I felt like I was learning about Bucharest in that period. I was slightly bothered by the mix of fact and fiction because I'd have liked to know how much truth was in the descriptions and some of the figures in the story.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2013
This is a great read! Really enthralling and a fantastic insight into life under a regime.

This book offers an enjoyable first person account of the life under a regime and the revolution which follows with fantastic depth and drama. It also offers views and opinions of capitalism, communism and socialism and the corruption of power and wealth. Certainly there can be parallels drawn here with the Arab Spring and the class and power divides evident in the likes of England where I am from.

There are (disappointingly) some editing errors; misspellings, typos and erroneous grammar but otherwise I thoroughly recommend this book.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2011
I did enjoy this book - for me it was quite an education into a period and a country I feel I should have known more about. I would have been 10 years old at the time the story took place at - and what a world away it was! I have a Romanian friend just a little older than me and I plan to quiz him a little deeper about his time growing up there.

A good story with good prose and some great expressions. Compared with other books I have read I felt it was difficult to form a clear image of the characters in my mind, and felt it a little difficult to connect with them. Story kept me interested, but didn't set me on fire.
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on 3 July 2014
Wonderful
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2014
This book catches the feel of the end of communism in Romania very effectively. The characters were difficult to become fully involved with. A very good reminder of what life was like behind the Iron Curtain.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2013
This was a brilliant evocation of a not so distant past and the paranoia of one of Eastern Europe's last hardline regimes. It's also very funny in places - and deserved its place on the Booker shortlist.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2011
A fantastic novel about the dying days of the Ceaucescu regime and the jockeying for positions as the new order slowly takes shape (even if the collapse is both dramatic and sudden). The narrative races along and I couldn't put this down. The novel also provided an excellent overview of recent Romanian history and just how repressed the people there were. This book nicely compliments the work of Dominica Radulescu, in particular her excellent Train to Trieste. Both authors write with authority and knowledge.
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