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I have to admit I was a little bit nervous with this as <whispers literary fiction heresy> I really haven't enjoyed the other Rose Tremain I read but I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the the ambiguity of the central character and the first person narrative of life as an immigrant. I thought it was largely fairly plausible too. But I wouldn't say it was the most memorable book I ever read or that I would now be a confirmed Tremain fan....
This has been on my own bookshelf for a while, so was pleased to get around to reading it.
I am not sure what tiggersday means by Lev being ambigious - unless its the fact that he is violent to Sophie after they break up?
I found this a thought-provoking book in many ways. I am not sure how typical it is of a true life experience, but I have lived abroad myself once. The way Lev's life slowly takes shape, from knowing just one person, finding a small job, meeting someone else, getting a better job, place to live, meeting Sophie felt realistic.
The book is multi-layered, with many peripheral stories such as Lydia and her relationship with Pyotor, Ina, Marina & Maya, the Hamlet references, Lev gradually acquiring and interest and skill in cooking, the humour of the meals (and menus) at the care home, the dam, asparaus picking, Christy and Jasmina, Rudi and the Tchevi etc etc. All of these added a depth and richness to the book which I found fascinating.
Lev's ambition was inspiring - it actually made me think about how hard I am actually prepared to work (holding down 2 jobs?) to get the things I want/dream about.
I felt as if the book had a happy ending in many ways, which left me feeling satisfied overall. Snatches of the novel keep coming back to me!
Not really the violence. I meant his ambiguity in his hard slog and willingness to scrape to send money home and build a new life, alongside periodic complete irresponsibility, lack of ability to make decisions etc. He wasn't a 'hero' figure despite overcoming a lot of adversity. I just found it humanising.
I really enjoyed this book. I have not tried Rose Tremain before so had no concept of her writing style.
I found the many story lines interesting and was always hopeful that Lev may have found love with Lydia. The hard work that he put in to create a better life for him and also the people he had left at home was inspiring. Holding down 2 jobs in order to go home and set up his dream makes me complaining about work and study look very pathetic.
They way he looked at the people around him when he first arrived in London made me look at the people around me. do we really look like that, overweight and pasty (!!) It was an enjoyable read and I may try another Tremain book.
I agree with itsatiggerday that the lapse's in his dedication to being providing and then sitting around smoking with Christy irresponsible but then don't we all have periods where we think sod it why I am i doing it all?
I would recommend this to others as it defiantly make you look at the world around you again and see those people making a new life in a different light.
I loved this book. I've never read any of her books before but have always meant to.i really cared about Lev the character and was rooting for him. His determination to do well, his stories from home. His work ethic was amazing and I couldn't imagine having to live a life so hard. This book appeared to have been so well researched and I found it so haunting. It will stay with me for a long time.
I enjoyed this book. I have attempted one RT book before and didn't like it at all, so came to this one with very low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised. It was easy to read, with believable characters and story line.
Very different type of story from the book by the same author in last year's swap.
Lev had such an awful start that I wasn't convinced he'd fulfil his dream and get home. Makes you think about the different people he met and the help (or lack) he got from them. Very thought provoking!