Rated of 5
by Rowan Ayers
In spite pf the raves on the book covers and among some of the reviewers, I found this a depressing and sometimes bewildering book, with the various cuts from the war years to the present, with catalogue type references to former artworks dropped in to jog the memory of what the old Hermitage was likw, disorientating to say the least. The main character Marina is not very interesting at any time , and the sixty year gap between her life in Leningrad during the war, and her final life in Seattle creates a difficult mind shift that adds nothing to the overall appeal of the novel. There are moments, as in Leningrad, when she tries to rescue some hidden chocolate from her apartment, (a luxury few could enjoy) but on seeing an old man shivering and alone on the street, she gives it to him, and returns to the "shelter" empty handed. But overall there was , for me at any rate, a depressing feeling of never getting to know her or the other family characters at all well, nor of appreciating the sixty year links between the past and the present as intended presumably by the author's constant cutting from then till now.