Mud and Stars combines Sara Wheeler’s periodic travels in and around various parts of the former Soviet Union with chapter-size biographies of some of Russia’s literary greats plus summaries of their major work(s).
She also makes interesting detours into the worlds of translation and her London-based adventures in learning the Russian language, culture and cuisine.
A good book for insights into modern Russia, and the great playwrights, poets and novelists of the 19th and 20th century – about whom I know (knew) next to nothing.
Completely unexpected twist towards the end of this novel. A complete side-swipe. And a cliffhanger ending.
Neither of which have anything to do with the central plot, where Istanbulli Inspectors Ikmen and Suleyman investigate the murder of the young woman from a mixed Catholic-Muslim family, whose apparent cure from leukaemia at an Armenian Church famed for its annual healing ceremony had stirred up strong reactions across Istanbul’s complex religious spectrum.
Back to Istanbul for more investigations in the company of Inspectors Ikmen and Süleyman and their police colleagues.
Always a great read – this one kept me turning the pages until almost midnight – and Barbara Nadel also shows you the social, religious and political tensions at play in modern Turkey. In The House of Four we get some late Ottoman history too.
London shrimp girl Bess Bright leaves her new born daughter at The Foundling Hospital in London’s Coram’s Fields. Returning six years later to retrieve her child, Bess uncovers a mystery – apparently she herself has returned the next day to claim her daughter …
Stacey Halls shows us Georgian London society from top to bottom, which I enjoyed – as you can see from the speed read. My main grumble is that the denouement was rather rapid. Not a surprise, but all a bit to simple and straightforward compared to the plotting that got us there.