Galina was born into a world of horrors. So why does she mourn its passing?
It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Vera are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating wallpaper soup and dead rats. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could provide a safe haven, as long as Mikhail can survive the perils of a commission from one of Stalin’s colonels.
Three decades on, Galina is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Institute. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she starts that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and her world changes out of all recognition.
Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist era, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the bling of 21st-century St Petersburg. Galina’s story is an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia as well as a compelling page-turner.
This novel was inspired by a painting the author, Molly Gartland, bought when she lived in Moscow. Gartland was captivated by the painting and the painter behind it – Ludmila Mikhailovna Sgibneva. And so the story began…
What stood out to me most when I read ‘The Girl from the Hermitage’ was how beautiful and evocative the writing was. Every scene felt carefully constructed so that you could truly imagine you where there, living the life of Galina from a young girl to old age.
The themes of the huge gap between those with everything and those with nothing was poignant and heart-breaking. The novel really stayed with me after I had finished reading it.
The ending also suggests there might be the possibility of a sequel, and I would be keenly awaiting it if there is one in the future.
Thank you so much to the author and Rachel’s Random Resources for gifting me my copy and for allowing me to be a part of this great book tour.
http://eye-books.com/books/the-girl-from-the-hermitage 20% off with discount code HERMITAGETOUR. Free UK p&p
Author Bio –
Originally from Michigan, Molly Gartland worked in Moscow from 1994 to 2000 and has been fascinated by Russian culture ever since.
She has an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University, Twickenham and lives in London.
The manuscript for her debut novel The Girl from the Hermitage was shortlisted for the Impress Prize and longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition, the Bath Novel Award and Grindstone Novel Award.