2000: The wreckage of a downed WWII fighter plane is discovered in the forests near Russia’s Ukrainian border. The aircraft belonged to Natalya Azarova, ace pilot and pin-up girl for Soviet propaganda, but the question of her fate remains unanswered. Was she a German spy who faked her own death, as the Kremlin claims? Her lover, Valentin Orlov, now a highly-decorated general, refuses to believe it. Lily, a young Australian woman, has moved to Moscow to escape from tragedy. She becomes fascinated by the story of Natalya, and when she meets an elderly woman who claims to know the truth behind the rumours, Lily is drawn deeper into the mystery. From the pomp and purges of Stalin’s Russia through the horrors of war and beyond – secrets and lies, enduring love and terrible betrayal, sacrifice and redemption all combine in this sweeping saga.
One reader found the Russian history very interesting but didn’t find the writing style was good. The book was an easy read and different aspects of the dual storyline and the topics raised, eg. Moscow Metro, animal rescues. This book was recommended by the BBC Book Club in 2014 and it was an easy book to read. One reader found the enduring love of Valentin for Natalya touching and sweet. The trauma of life under the various political regimes was very clearly depicted.
Read by – The Second Tuesday Evening Book Group.