Galina was born into a world of horrors. So why does she mourn its passing?
It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Vera are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating wallpaper soup and dead rats. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could provide a safe haven, as long as Mikhail can survive the perils of a commission from one of Stalin’s colonels.
Three decades on, Galina 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 starts 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 her world changes out of all recognition.
Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist era, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the bling of 21st-century St Petersburg. Galina’s story is an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia as well as a compelling page-turner.
I thought that this story was excellent – it starts with an impactful scene that is very emotional and heartbreaking and the author puts you right in to the action, horrors and atrocities that took place for some during WWII.
I have read a few non fiction books on this period and what happened here but the author really does bring the story to life and the book really made me feel emotional at times.
The descriptions are excellent and they really bring the characters and setting to life, you really do feel as though you are transporting back in time, to a period when it was often pure luck as to whether you would survive or not.
It is 5 stars from me for this story, it is well written, well developed and has an excellent plot – very highly recommended!!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Michigan, Molly Gartland worked in Moscow from 1994 to 2000 and has been fascinated by Russian culture ever since.
She has an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University, Twickenham and lives in London.
The manuscript for her debut novel The Girl from the Hermitage was shortlisted for the Impress Prize and longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition, the Bath Novel Award and Grindstone Novel Award.
Social Media Links – @molbobolly Twitter