6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Interesting historical setting but a clumsy novel,
This review is from: One Night in Winter (Hardcover)
Two teenagers die in Moscow after the 1945 Victory Parade - suicide pact or something more subversive?
The setting for this novel is interesting: Stalinist Russia during and just after the war. The author knows his history but his skills as a novelist are far more uneven. The best part is the second section where children as young as 6 are drawn into the investigation, held in the infamous Lubianka and interrogated, encouraged to denounce their families.
But this is offset by a lot of sentimental story-telling as various couples fall into undying love, only to be separated by the inhumanities of the communist state...
There is some truly risible writing on display here (pollen is `like an invasion of alien spaceships', tanks are `mechanical khaki dinosaurs', and a `witch-hunting hypocrite pranced down the corridors like a broad-hipped conquisador'). Emotions are merely sketched in, and there's a lack of telling detail that can make fiction so haunting.
So in comparison to Helen Dunmore's harrowing The Betrayal this is lightweight. If you know little about life in Stalinist Russia this is worth reading - and you may want to move on to the far more hard-hitting The Whisperers or Just Send Me Word for history combined with emotional authenticity.