‘Something terrible is happening here. Something terrible has already happened.’
Kiev 1992. Rachel, a troubled young English mother, joins her journalist husband on his first foreign posting in the city. Terrified of the apartment’s balcony, she develops obsessive rituals to keep their baby safe. Her difficulties expose her to a disturbing endgame between the elderly caretaker and a local racketeer who sends a gift that surely comes with a price. Rachel is isolated yet culpable with her secrets and estrangements. As consequences bear down she seeks out Zoya, her husband’s fixer, and the boy from upstairs who watches them all.
Home is uncertain, betrayal is everywhere, but in the end there are many ways to be a mother.
‘An unforgettable story. The claustrophobia is palpable, and the characters are utterly convincing in this beautifully observed novel. Outstanding.’ —Claire Fuller
‘This is a fascinating portrayal of Kiev and its people, written with skill, depth and sympathy but never shying away from darker facets. At its heart is the story of a marriage, of motherhood, and of a place contaminated by its terrible history. It is an alluring and gratifying read.’ —Jackie Law, neverimitate
‘This was a complex and compelling story and there is a sense of unease throughout, as we see a contrast between the mundane aspects of daily life and survival, and the threats that arise from a country’s recent troubles. And at the heart of it all there is a story of a marriage, and of motherhood, as Rachel is forced to confront her fears, both real and imagined, as she adapts to family life in a claustrophobic environment.’ —Nat Marshall, the owl on the bookshelf