On the whole the book was not really liked by everyone. Nearly everyone thought it was not as good as some of Rose Tremain’s other novels, i.e. Music and Silence.

You said: A Good story…too good to be true…good looking hero, hardworking, comes to London, makes good by hard work and enterprise. Learns by watching. Goes home to help his family and friends and then make good in home country (not actually given in the book, but could have been Poland, if you look at the acknowledgements). You felt that not many emigres have a path ‘strewn with roses’, with nothing too bad happening in between.

Story boring at first but becoming more interesting. All the characters were ‘positive’, lucky character, meeting positive people. Easy read. Situation of immigrants well described..

Not a book that will ‘remain’. Christie, a real Irishman, described well and liked. Hero not interested in anything but ‘work’. Not interested in ‘culture’….? You wondered where he would find the time, he was working extremely hard! Wondered what the people around him were thinking ….some of you liked the importance of food. You suggested that Lev was going through a mourning process.

Some of you said it was a ‘page turner’, raising ecological and political points. Hero, Lev, learned to survive without his family around. The point that he was a legal immigrant but perceived by the indigenes and by other immigrants as an illegal immigrant was interesting. You felt he was violent to Sophie but tried to control his feelings, ‘follow a good way’

Was communism still present in his country? Could it ever be eradicated. The village having to be submerged by the dam was mentioned, but this was also cited as having happened in capitalist countries too. An economic rather than communistic issue. Political! Raising issues on immigration, the hopes of immigrants and the feelings of the families left behind. A simple story, man making good with a happy ending. Life is never pure happiness. Hero was numerically adept…saving money. Interesting comments about immigrants from fellow immigrants. Vodka drinking surprised some.

Decently written, intriguing moments. Tchevi, boring and repetitive. Death of the old lady sad. Fabricated story in need of pruning, lacked subtlety. Sentimental. Ideal foreigner…, plodding story…not a page turner. Suggestion that Rose Remain was caught in trap of the Anglo Saxon writing workshops!

Suggested read Short History of Tractors-Ukrainian- Marina Lewycka


Hope this is an accurate summary of a book, which, as always, raised a lot of issues and gave us plenty to talk about.

Our next meeting is Wednesday 10th October, Salle Aramis, Le Chateau in Saujon at 2.30 and the book to have read (but do come along even if you haven’t read or finished the book) is The Lost City of Z by DavidGann, la Cite perdue de Z.