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A Compelling Story of Love and Deception,
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This review is from: The Valley of Unknowing (Kindle Edition)
"In the East of Germany, in the valley of the Elbe, lies the capital of Saxony. In the days of the GDR, it was the only part of the country where it was impossible to receive western television. East Germans called it the Valley of Unknowing."
Set in the German Democratic Republic in the 1980s, Philip Sington's novel is the story of Bruno Krug, a middle-aged author, suffering from writer's block and living off the reputation of his acclaimed book: 'The Orphans of Neustadt'; a novel that has won him prizes and public recognition, but is proving a very tough act to follow. His friend and editor, Michael Schilling, continues to encourage Bruno in his efforts to produce a new book but, knowing that nothing is immediately forthcoming, he asks Bruno to read the manuscript of an untitled novel that has been given to him by a new author.
Bruno is curious and takes the manuscript home to read, but when he discovers that the novel is by a young screenwriter, Wolfgang Richter, a man who has ridiculed him in the past, Bruno is unsettled. And when Bruno has finished reading the manuscript he is even more unsettled, for not only is the novel extremely good but Richter has managed to write the sequel to Bruno's 'Orphans' that Bruno has been incapable of writing himself. Added to this, Bruno's dislike of Richter is further increased when he sees him in the company of the beautiful Theresa, a viola player from the West who is studying in the East, and a woman Bruno is very attracted to and has been trying to get to know better. Therefore when Bruno receives a visit from a certain Herr Andrich and Herr Zoch, describing themselves as employees of the city council, but most probably members of the Stasi, asking him some awkward questions, Bruno has no real qualms in directing their attention away from him and onto Richter, by hinting that Richter has written a novel that could have dangerous undertones. And what happens next has serious and life-changing consequences for Richter, Theresa, Bruno, and for many of those around them.
Philip Sington's novel is a compelling story of love, jealousy, deception, betrayal, and fear. I found 'The Valley of Unknowing' an intriguing, involving and almost claustrophobic read and the last section, involving the attempted defection of one of the characters, kept me up until the early hours until I knew the outcome. I have not read any of Sington's previous novels, but my enjoyment of this one has made me keen to discover what else he has written and I shall certainly be looking out for his next novel.
P.S. Do watch the Amazon video for this novel - it's both very amusing and moving and it encouraged me to buy the book.