I’ve travelled a bit over the last few years, and have always felt a pull towards a couple of places. One of those, Cambodia, once I’d experienced it finally – was incredible. One other place is still high on the list, however unfortunately not on the otherhalfs. It’s cold, corrupt, with a language spoken that’s barely comprehensible – but beautiful and has come out beyond the horrors of their history – or at least that’s what I’d like to think, Putin aside. This glorious, beautiful place is Russia.
I’m sure it’s the books and history that I’ve read previously, from reading about the Romanov’s, looking at the history of House of Fabergé, right through ‘Animal farm’ and to the Lacuna, which opened my eyes to not only Trotsky’s escape from Russia, but also the post-war fear that developed across the western world (particularly in the States) through the 50’s and 60’s…
There’s a harsh beauty to Russia that I visualise in my head. I guess a place that I’m not sure would ever be what I’ve created within my own head, and as bleak as it may seem during the depths of winter, I’d still love to go.
So of course, when looking for something to read, I was immediately drawn to this, as a current look at what is going on within Russia today.
Of course this book brings it straight to the fore, the cold, (-30deg celsius? and I found -15 a struggle), the vodka, and of course the inherent corruption. While I did feel that the plot was way too easy to spot, and by the end of the first couple of chapters, I was looking for the flags of up coming plot threads – but even though they were spotted a mile off, it didn’t detract from the impact and sadness to each characters minor story and influence.
It did leave me wondering a bit about the naivety of the main character, what made him think that everything is what it seems on the surface? It did, I admit, make me feel a little cautious of Russia, how easy it would be to get exploited and not see the hole that you were dragged into until well too late, but I still want to go there.
Probably not the best book to start the year with, fingers crossed I find some better books to sink my teeth into over the next few months…