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Starts well, disappointing ending
on 29 August 2011
This book started out well, I was readily drawn in to the life of Russian, Stalina Folskaya, who leaves her homeland for America in 1991, at the age of 51. I would have liked a bit more about her reasons for leaving, especially as she left an elderly, demented mother behind in St Petersburg. However, we meet her as she is preparing to leave and so assume those thought processes are behind her.
Arriving at Kennedy Airport, she makes her way to Hartford, Connecticut, where she stays with her childhood friend, Amalia. As is all too common in the emigre experience, her chemist's qualifications are of no value in her new land so Amalia finds her work as a maid at a local 'short-stay' motel. Stalina settles into this new way of life and persuades the proprietor to allow her to decorate some 'theme' rooms. Her Gazebo room and Roller Coaster room are an instant hit and The Liberty Motel adds 'Rooms for the Imaginative' to its motel board. Strangely, though she thinks about decorating other rooms, nothing happens for several years.
Unfortunately, I thought the novel collapsed in on itself at this point (about 2/3 through). Suddenly the motel ownership changed, 'suits' were on the scene, and Stalina breaks up with her closest friend over a thieving incident.
I don't want to spoil the story for prospective readers so I can't fully explain why I lost patience with the book at this stage, but all these events occurred with no build-up or back-ground and my star rating plummeted from a good 4 stars to only three.
A love interest in America would have been good too.
There were some really nice touches too though, particularly the relationship between Svetlana, the kitten, and Zarzamora, the crow. The flash-backs to Stalina's life in Russia were also interesting and the episode with the ashes made me smile.
This was a reasonable read but, for me, fell a bit short of the mark.