A book blog about Russia in English-language fiction

Tag: World War I

Firesong by Joseph Hone (1997)

In Firesong, noted writer of espionage novels Joseph Hone (1937-2016) tries his hand at the sprawling epic; 700 pages following Prince and Princess Rumovsky, members of the St Petersburg nobility, in the tumultuous 14 years between New Year 1906 and Christmas 1920.

Firesong is then a ‘Russia in the time of revolution’ novel. Like others of this sub-genre —Barnaby William’s Revolution (1994), James Meek’s The People’s Act of Love (2005), Charlotte Hobson’s The Vanishing Futurist (2016)— Firesong sets up the pre-revolutionary life of its central characters and then explores the impact of revolution and civil war on the same.

The epic is not Russia in Fiction’s favourite genre. That said, there is plenty here to fascinate and to enlighten from the Russia-in-fiction perspective. Not least, we learnt stuff about Harbin.

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A Clear Road To Archangel by Geoffrey Rose (1973)

Russia in Fiction has noted before that when you choose your reading based on whether a novel engages with Russia or not, you end up reading genres that might otherwise have passed you by.

Geoffrey Rose’s A Clear Road To Archangel sits on the edge of such a situation. It is a thriller and such are this blog’s staple diet, even as we endeavour to vary the menu with regularity. But beyond the thriller meta-genre, A Clear Road To Archangel fits into the so far neglected ‘man on the run’ sub-genre.

The book’s unnamed first person narrator is a British spy, caught up in the convulsions of revolutionary and Civil War Russia, and trying to find his way to Archangel (Arkhangelsk) in the far north. If he can get there, he is confident of rescue by British forces or their allies.

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