Solovyov and Larionov by Eugene Vodolazkin (translated by Lisa C. Hayden) is a novel, translated from Russian, which is part military history, part academic satire. This is the author’s first book, but his third translated into English.
- 368 pages
- Publisher: Oneworld Publications
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1786070359
Most of the books I read which were translated from Russian were very good, some even excellent. Before requesting Solovyov and Larionov by Eugene Vodolazkin (translated by Lisa C. Hayden) I looked up the synopsis which seemed to be right up my alley.
The book checked many of the things which I enjoy: military history, a detective story, and academic satire to boot. For me, however, none of these parts came together. I also like books which take their time to tell a good story, whether it’s a sweeping, grand arc or intimately exploring characters – better yet is a combination of both.
This book, however, didn’t work for me. It was difficult to keep track of the many characters which appear and disappear without any rhyme or reason. The symbolism, which I’m sure is here, didn’t make much sense to me. The women in this book, a contrast to the fatality of men (I assume), also appear just to disappear, like an illusion.
The only way I can describe the pace is monotone, with several movements of interest and comedy. The author kept me reading because I always felt I was on the edge of… something, but it was always missing. Like when eating grapes and you keep eating the almost rotten ones just hoping to get that one, sweet, ripe grape which will make the whole thing worth it.
But in this case you never do.
I felt exhausted when reading this novel, for a book about a historian it didn’t confirm anything for me. I read the glowing reviews some readers left for this book and I can only guess that I missed something which they didn’t.
Solovyov grew up in the middle of nowhere, a place so obscure that it doesn’t even have a name, it is simply known as Kilometer 715. He knows very few people, has a crash on a librarian and leaves the first chance he gets to St. Petersburg to start his academic career.
The young man becomes a historian, focusing his efforts on the legendary general Larionov. The general picked the wrong side during the Russian Revolution, but somehow has been allowed to live. Why was the general alive, is the focus of Solovyov’s research.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
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