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|Print List Price:||£6.80|
Save £4.81 (71%)
Devil's Acre: A Russian Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 338 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
Vadim’s ill-advised quest to discover the truth about the destruction of Moscow’s first Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (now rebuilt in the post-Soviet era) runs parallel to the historic story of its conception and creation. With this twin-track tale of architecture and morality, Bastable subtly draws together the common threads uniting the Tsars, the Orthodox Church and the Communist Party – all seeking to dominate the very soul of the Russian people
But it is the story of Vadim and his extended circle of family, friends and acquaintances that really fascinates. Bastable explores their dreams, loyalties, feuds and insecurities with an assurance and crisp prose that matches that of Vasily Grossman in Life and Fate, the great novel of the Patriotic War.
Whereas Grossman’s work was on the epic scale, Bastable deals with everyday life. In doing so he brings alive a very specific time and place, Moscow on the eve of Glasnost, in a way that is memorable and compelling. Some readers may be perplexed by the ending but it is arguably a dose of Soviet realism rather than glib romantic escapism. An idiosyncratic work but a very rewarding one.
It was recommended by a friend and I had little prior knowledge of the subject matter of pre-perestroika Russia and the construction of a cathedral. (Strange juxtaposition? They work together, trust me.)
Anyway, it's beautifully written. Whilst being drawn into the two parallel stories, I found myself often reading back through sentences just to experience them one more time. I've never noticed this desire in myself before, so it must be the beautiful sentences.
Bastable, a former Times correspondent during the final years of the USSR and accomplished writer of historical non-fiction, handles the historical flashbacks and the narrative ducking and weaving with all the skill to be expected from an accomplished newspaperman. But he can write people and feelings too, which is rare. I'd quibble a little bit with the ending, but maybe a little cynical realism is right, and I am a foolish romantic. The journey to get there is every bit worth it. I read it in a few days, looking forward to finding the time to immerse myself and sad when it all ended and these events and people left my life. Me, who doesn't read novels that often and finds it hard to stick with them. I'd dock maybe a quarter-point for the ending, but since Mr Amazon don't allow that, I'll stick with 5 stars. Excellent.
I enjoy both non-fiction and really well-written literary fiction, and this was a perfect blend of the two.
I found the fictional plot gripping, and the author’s popping in and out in his own voice enhanced the story for me. What makes this book really great is the insight it gives into how life actually was in Russia in the 1980’s. The writer clearly has a deep affinity for Russia and an understanding of how it works, and that shows on every page. Along with a general sense of life there, there are fascinating vignettes: about the queuing system in Moscow university library; about vodka; about Brezhnev’s funeral. It never feels like a history lesson, and all flows very easily.
On top of the author’s knowledge of Russia, he’s a damn good writer. The book is a real page-turner.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great effort and passion put into this book. Particularly strong as a little treatise on Russia, but some passages remarkably lyrical tooPublished 13 months ago by JJ
This beautifully written book gives a truly memorable insight into life as a student at Moscow State University in the Eighties, conjuring up all the bleakness and austerity of... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Sal P
This is a fascinating book full of Russian history linked to more recent events. Jonathan's understanding of the Russian people and his love of the land and its poetry shine... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Helen L
I knew very little of Russia before reading this now I am fascinated, historical, intrigue a love story this book had it all cannot recommend it highly enoughPublished 17 months ago by B A Graham-Jones
This imaginative story, taking the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour– built under the Czars, destroyed by Stalin and rebuilt after Perestroika – as a way of telling the recent... Read morePublished on 2 April 2014 by Anthony Williams
This tale of a young Russian student whose obsession with the destroyed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow brings unwanted attention from the political authorities is a... Read morePublished on 20 Feb. 2014 by Brenda Stewart
After a slightly slow start, this book caught and held my attention. The author obviously knows his recent Russian history, and this comes through in his narrative. Read morePublished on 26 Jan. 2014 by Harwell