Firstly I wish to thank Ruth Killick of Sandstone Press for inviting me on the Blog Tour for THE WOLVES OF LENINSKY PROSPEKT by Sarah Armstrong
It’s 1973 and Martha has been sent down from Cambridge for distributing left-wing leaflets and doing no work. To escape parental disapproval, she marries her friend Kit, posted to Moscow by the diplomatic service. Kit is gay, but having a wife could keep him safe. In Moscow, Martha struggles to make sense of a difficult but fascinating new world.
Who can she trust? Who can she even talk to? She takes Russian lessons, makes the wrong friends, becomes familiar with a strange and wonderful city, and unwittingly becomes a spy.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
I was truly fascinated by this story as it follows rebellious Martha, the daughter of an upper middle class family in the 1970’s. Martha has recently been sent home after losing her place at Cambridge University after being caught on camera protesting about the exclusion of women from Trinity college. But what seemed as a good idea at the time has now put Martha in a position that she certainly does want to be in, back home under the control of her not so impressed parents. They are in the process of arranging a position as a pre school teacher for her when a once in a life time deal comes up.
Kit is a bestie of Martha’s brother and working as a junior minister in Russia. The thing is Kit is gay but in 1970 he is well and truly staying in the closet. A marriage of convenience is agreed between them. which gives Kit the outward appearance he needs and the chance for Martha to escape the over baring parents that wish to clip her wings.
I loved the comparisons of 1970’s Britain and Russia and how each had views of the other. Martha really hadn’t a clue what she was letting herself in for with this deal. The high-rise accommodation was very basic and she, as all foreigners working there were constantly monitored. There was definitely no caging the inquisitive Martha. She had a daring about her that took her into the real Russia, not abiding to the rules of a diplomats wife. A suspected suicide and disappearance of people make putting a foot out-of-place feel pretty deadly.
The characters were fascinating especially Eva, a former Brit now living in the Russian sector, where an unusual and dangerous friendship is formed. Strange alliances and encounters are a thing that Martha cannot stay away from while at the same time the British diplomats wives are becoming hostile because of her absence at their gatherings.
At first meeting of Martha I thought of her as a spoilt young woman but she does a tremendous amount of growing in Russia with an obvious love for the country. She adapts quickly to situations, where I was left open-mouthed when huge buildings and churches just simply vanished with terrified local people swearing that they had never existed. Maps were useless as whole areas constantly changed. A brilliant story that focuses on the wives of these diplomats and the consequences of not following the rules.
If you like this sort of cold war thriller then this will hit the spot. I loved it!
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Armstrong is the author of The Insect Rosary (‘a brave debut’- Anne Goodwin) and The Devil in the Snow (‘an intriguing and compelling story – Liz Trenow). Her short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies, and she teaches undergraduate and postgraduate creative writing with the Open University.
Sarah lives in Colchester with her husband and four children, and will be available for a limited number of interviews in the run up to publication.