Amy Bloom’s latest novel follows the journey of Lillian, a Russian woman who watches her family being brutally killed and then travels to America to escape those memories and her country. Once there, the plot rockets through a number of settings and quirky, well-drawn characters worthy of Angela Carter. The colours are vivid, but the encounters are so breathlessly short it’s hard to grasp the scenes that are dangled in front of the reader.
Lillian herself is portrayed as a hardy woman, who weathers the many storms that batter her with such resilience and often passive acceptance, it’s sometimes hard to muster sympathy. Her appeal to others would possibly be easier to accept with longer, more plumped chapters. However, the pace and sheer glory of certain passages combine to create an addictive and memorable novel. Bloom has made an interesting and vibrant world; it would be a treat to be allowed to explore it further.