A book blog about Russia in English-language fiction

Tag: Alice Jolly

The Romeo Flag by Carolyn Hougan (1989)

Published in 1989, but set a decade earlier, as Jimmy Carter’s presidency is coming to an end and the Soviet Union seems as threatening as ever to the West, The Romeo Flag flew briefly in the world of Russia-in-fiction thrillers.

The Romeo Flag offers a complex globe-trotting, decade-spanning, page-turning plot that differs from the run-of-the-mill, even whilst being built around a couple of the staples of Russia-related fiction; a surviving Romanov heir and a Soviet mole at the heart of the US government.

On top of that, The Romeo Flag turns out to contain uncanny parallels with a fresh new soon-to-be bestselling novel published only last week.

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The Wolves of Leninsky Prospekt by Sarah Armstrong (2019) — part two

Part one of this review is here.

Martha marries Kit, a gay British diplomat serving in Moscow in 1973. This platonic marriage suits them both — Kit feeling the need to disguise his sexuality; Martha finding a route out of the conventional home-bound English middle-class future her parents see for her.

Sarah Armstrong’s The Wolves of Leninsky Prospekt plays off the temporal and physical settings of Moscow and 1973 against one another.

Martha embraces life in Soviet Moscow, with all its faults and fears. For Kit, working in the British Embassy, the reality of Cold War tensions are ever present.

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If Only You Knew by Alice Jolly (2006) – part two

Part one of this review is here.

If Only You Knew sees a life transformed as another life dies. Its place and time —Moscow in the year of the Soviet collapse— serves as metaphor for the developing story.

Eva and Rob arrive in a city that is recognisably Soviet in its restrictive and proscriptive milieu. By the novel’s end, intimations of emerging life in all its chaotic and elemental potential are visible on the streets of Russia’s capital.

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If Only You Knew by Alice Jolly (2006) – part one

Part two of this review is here.

If Only You Knew is Alice Jolly’s second book and her only foray into Russia as a setting. Specifically, the setting is Moscow in the year in which the Soviet Union disappeared and an independent Russia re-emerged.

The story starts in November 1990, as the novel’s first person narrator, Eva, arrives in Moscow to live with her partner, Rob, who works in democracy promotion.

The turmoil of Russia’s politics during the 13 months in which If Only You Knew takes place forms the backdrop to the emotional turmoil in Eva’s life, which is the focus of this story.

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