Don’t Pay the Theremin – Until It Gets You to the Other Side

US CONDUCTORSus conductors
Sean Michaels
Bloomsbury, July 2015, RRP $29.95

There are a number of different ways to write a novel based on historical characters. You can go for a modernisation of the characters and follow the general story but change bits of the plot – Susan Kay’s Elizabethan Legacy, which is a total romp and hugely enjoyable despite it’s lack of accuracy.

You can interweave an imaginary character into a historical narrative; Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon introduces Lawrence Waterhouse into the development of the code breaker during WWII to such an extent that I have no longer any idea what really went on because my memory of the history is so tarnished by reading it. Loved that book: I have a cat named after Enoch Root, one of the minor characters. Continue reading

We Russians, We Have Only Our Winter

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO

Boris Pasternak (trans. Max Hayward and Manya Harai, Vintage, 2002 (first published Collins and Harvill, 1958)) ISBN: 9780099448426

Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago has been lauded for almost 60 years as one of the greatest love stories of all time.  An epic set during the Russian Revolution, it saw its author awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and has been adapted several times for the screen in both Russian and English.  With the weight of its renown, but without much notion of what the story was actually about, I looked forward to falling in love with this book.  Unfortunately, I didn’t.

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