Galina was born into a world of horrors. So why does she mourn its passing?
It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Vera are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating wallpaper soup and dead rats. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could provide a safe haven, as long as Mikhail can survive the perils of a commission from one of Stalin’s colonels.
Three decades on, Galina is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Institute. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she starts that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and her world changes out of all recognition.
Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist era, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the bling of 21st-century St Petersburg. Galina’s story is an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia as well as a compelling page-turner.
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Molly Gartland’s novel, The Girl From The Hermitage is a beautifully written, historical drama that really pulls at your heart strings. The writing is absorbing. I could not set this one down and read it in one day.
I absolutely loved the pacing. This author has the ability to bring readers into this world of desperation and starvation. It was heart-wrenching, and a reminder of all the things we take for granted.
This is a beautiful novel. I really think it would be best if I didn’t drone on this review and you read it for yourself. Brilliant characters, plot, and writing. Five stars from me. Don’t miss out.
*I received a free copy of this book from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review on the blog tour. All opinions are my own and unbiased.*
Originally from Michigan, Molly Gartland worked in Moscow from 1994 to 2000 and has been fascinated by Russian culture ever since.
She has an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University, Twickenham and lives in London.
The manuscript for her debut novel The Girl from the Hermitage was shortlisted for the Impress Prize and longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition, the Bath Novel Award and Grindstone Novel Award.
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