Top positive review
but they were almost too perfect: self-sacrificing
on 29 July 2017
Rarely have I read a novel so effective in evoking the feeling of Stalinist Russia; the suffocating, overwhelming paranoia of a place where everyone is alert to dissenters, saboteurs, and enemies of the state, where people are willing to inform on those around them to save themselves, or just to improve their own situation. Dunmore builds the uncertainty, watchfulness, and selfishness into the very bones of her story, making her two main characters, Anna and Andrei, stand out all the more. Perhaps it was this dichotomy that made them seem unreal to me, but they were almost too perfect: self-sacrificing, brave, hopeful. Again, this may say more about me than them, but where I could imagine all the other people in the novel with real clarity, these two were just too good to be believed. The book offers them as a symbol of enduring love, able to persist even in the most difficult of times, a confidence well at odds with their daily lives and gut wrenching enough in the climate of the novel to make the reader sick with worry for them.
It was masterfully done by the author, each word chosen for emotion and impact. Her death this year was a sad loss, but i'm thankful that it brought me to her works.