Two sisters vanish from a popular beach in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky with only one witness. As months pass with no progress, their disappearance reverberates throughout the peninsula, unearthing long held mistrusts and prejudices. Julia Phillips gives you not a police procedural but a series of interconnected hopeful, desperate, and at times devastating glimpses into the lives of both native and Russian women in this small pocket of the world. Through their eyes, we come to know Kamchatka, their dreams, their fears, and what keeps them tethered to this harsh land while clues slowly reveal themselves around them.
You'll have to read this novel because there is so much more that I cannot put into words.
Like much great fiction, Laurus compresses a particular vision of human life into the person of a flawed but worthy individual. Here are moments of intense horror, of joy, and of despair. During periods when existence seems to have stalled for our hero--that nothing will ever again improve or change--the reader is led into transcendent meditation and reflection on Time and on the soul's dreadful-and-glorious progress. It is no small bonus that this book is free of trendy political and social agendas and is oblivious to what Owen Barfield termed "chronological snobbery" (the imperious disdain which modernity showers on the "ignorant" past). Finally, this is one of a precious few books which has reinforced my sense that Time is neither linear nor cyclical, but spiraling -- curved in its horizontal direction, but always with an inevitable, vertical tension.
I can't even remember when I started this book. A self-described "saga of the Russian Revolution," it's as monumental and as sprawling as the enormous apartment building at its heart. A work of history to rival the classics of Russian literature.