A compelling historical thriller set in Russia on the brink of the Revolution.
The son of an English father and Russian mother, Charlie Doig is a naturalist. He roughs it around the world collecting birds and insects. In 1914 he’s on a mission in Russian Turkestan when war breaks out. Doig has no intention of volunteering to be killed, so returns to the Pink House, his family’s home near Smolensk, and to the woman he loves, his cousin Elizaveta.
At first the Pink House remains almost untouched by outside events. But imperial Russia is doomed and with it all the old certainties. When Elizaveta’s fiancé is assassinated, Charlie fulfils his greatest wish and himself takes her as his bride. The very next morning he finds two men approaching the house through the falling snow. Against all his instincts, he gives them shelter. Trapped by the snow with Doig and his new wife are a motley collection of old aristocrats, their servants and hangers-on –and the two soldiers, one of whom Doig is convinced is a Bolshevik out to destroy them all.
“An extremely wintry and hard hitting adventure story...told in an intimate, chatty style and in prose of great originality and angularity - this is a historical evocation at times as powerful as the account of pre-1914 Berlin that the late great Sybille Bedford gave us in A Legacy..... readers will surely welcome its author to the ranks of our greatest storytellers”
Andrew Barrow, Literary Review
“Beautifully written, with baroque energy and style”
Jessica Mann, Sunday Telegraph
“Provincial aristocratic life - the milieu of Turgenev and Chekhov - is evoked with affection and humour, while our knowledge of its imminent doom imbues the proceedings with tragic tension and poignancy. The wait is unbearable, and when the Bolshevik horror finally arrives, it is much more unbearable. A comic pastoral, a culture in microcosm, dissolves into universal cataclysm, into Hell.”
Lewis Jones, Daily Telegraph
“Fleming finds an unencumbered, historically penetrating language in which the simplest expository sentences can bring prose, story and setting into a crisp and evocative alignment”
Sam Thompson, Guardian
“This is a tense, thrilling and at times darkly comic novel with a complex central character who... bursts off the page”
“A meticulously researched act of reconstruction...The narrative, the dialogue and the intensity of Doig's emotions drive the story to a savage climax that reads like a modern thriller. It is the best sort of historical novel”
Honor Clerk, Spectator