Galina was born into a world of horrors. So why does she mourn its passing?
SHORTLISTED: Impress Prize
LONGLISTED: Bath Novel Award
LONGLISTED: Grindstone Novel Award
It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Vera are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating soup made of wallpaper, with the occasional luxury of a dead rat. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could now provide a safe haven, provided Mikhail can navigate the perils of a portrait commission from one of Stalin’s colonels.
Nearly forty years later, Galina herself is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Institute. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she embarks upon that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and Galina’s familiar world changes out of all recognition.
Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist world, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the glitz and bling of 21st-century St Petersburg. Galina’s story is at once a compelling page-turner and an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia.
‘A beautifully written book that takes you right into the characters’ world. Highly recommended’ LUCINDA HAWKSLEY
Wow, this book has certainly taken me on a journey through the pages. This is a story that takes us on a trip through five generations and has it all. This covers starvation, the hardship of war and so much more.
I have been pulled in from very early on and actually have been more impressed by this book than I thought I would be. This is a definite hidden gem of a read that I feel everyone should read.
The authors writing style is engaging and easy to become lost in. I am excited to read more already.
This is filled with little snippets of Russian history and has really kept me interest.
A definite five star read for me.
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