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Ice Road
     

Ice Road

by Gillian Slovo
 
"A gripping story of courage, disillusionment, survival, and the triumph of the human spirit."—Sarah Durant, author of The Birth of Venus
Loyalties, beliefs, love, family ties: all are tested to the limit in one of the most devastating moments of human history: the siege of Leningrad during World War II. Boris Aleksandrovich, a well-meaning bureaucrat,

Overview

"A gripping story of courage, disillusionment, survival, and the triumph of the human spirit."—Sarah Durant, author of The Birth of Venus
Loyalties, beliefs, love, family ties: all are tested to the limit in one of the most devastating moments of human history: the siege of Leningrad during World War II. Boris Aleksandrovich, a well-meaning bureaucrat, thinks he can negotiate between idealism and politics. His daughter, Natasha, learns otherwise when, as a young woman in love, she is almost crushed by her father's compromises. Watching all this unfold is Irina. Wise, ironic, marvelous Irina, whom Boris had persuaded to go on an ill-fated voyage to the Arctic Circle, where she barely survived. When she arrives back in Leningrad, he feels honor bound to find her a position within his family circle. Irina comes to understand how love for another may, in the end, be more powerful and more profound than blind loyalty to an idea. Exciting and heroic, peopled with wonderfully complex characters, Ice Road is a masterpiece. A finalist for the Orange Prize.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Memoirist and novelist Slovo's (Red Dust) star is rising, and this novel will affirm her status as a keen observer of human nature and its agonizing contradictions. Leningraders in the era just after the revolution and during World War II, Irina and Natasha could not lead more different lives, even under the leveling pressures of the Soviet boot they shared. Irina goes as the cook on an ill-fated expedition to the Arctic, barely making it out alive; Natasha is the coddled daughter of a well-connected family eventually trapped in Stalinist paranoia. Their paths not only cross but also merge when extinction threatens them both. Slovo writes keenly of ideological ironies and their interplay and treats her characters with great sympathy. Libraries where Helen Dunmore's The Siege and Vassily Aksyonov's work attract patrons will want this fresh and intense exploration of the Russian paradoxes. [The author is the daughter of Joe Slovo, leader of the South African Communist party, and Ruth First, a journalist who was murdered in 1982.-Ed.]-Barbara Conaty, Library of Congress Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The adventures of Boris and Natasha. No, not that Boris and Natasha, but a pair equally in thrall to a shadowy leader, and without the laughter. In this epic tale, sprawling in scope and ambition but with a smallish dramatis personae-a cleaning lady, a few Party functionaries and bureaucrats, an American fellow traveler, a young woman who resembles Pasternak's sad Lara-Slovo (Red Dust, 2001, etc.) imagines life at the height of Stalin's terror. Boris Ivanov lives in a time of signs and rumors, and he watches carefully as the promise of the Revolution is betrayed. Other figures here are less inclined to silence-one remarks to Boris, "Remember how we used to boast that ours would be the generation to change history? I always assumed we were talking about the historical future"-and less loyal to the boss, at least outwardly, but Boris falls under suspicion all the same, as everyone in Leningrad eventually does. Irina Davydovna has been out in the cold, a hand on an Arctic vessel that was useless for cutting through ice; just so, her protector, high-ranking official Sergei Kirov, is powerless to stop the death machine. He knows that his own time is coming: "Glorious Stalin," he tells Irina, "magnanimous Stalin, is going to fit me with a new suit." The years wheel by, and Boris's daughter Natasha is caught in the crossfire of betrayal, denunciation and suspicion; by 1938, she is a ghost in the political machine, "not dead exactly-more like indifferent." Matters should not improve for anyone when the Nazis attack Leningrad, laying the city to terrible siege, but Natasha, having endured so much, finds herself invested with a new will to live, with "such an alien feeling that she has to grope tofind the word to describe it . . . Happy." Slovo risks melodrama, but on the whole her tale is smart and poignant, exploring some of the same moral territory as Nikita Mikhalkov's film Burnt by the Sun. A big idea well handled.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393327205
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
04/17/2005
Pages:
560
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Gillian Slovo, author of the novel Red Dust, now a feature film, and co-author of the play Guantánamo, as well as a memoir and nine other novels, lives in London.

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