When historian Fluke Kelso learns of the existence of a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin he is determined to track it down, whatever the consequences. From the violent political intrigue and decadence of modern Moscow he heads north - to the vast forests surrounding the White Sea port of Archangel, and a terrifying encounter with Russia's unburied past.
©1998 Robert Harris (P)2014 AudioGo Ltd. Published by Random House Audiobooks
Michael Kitchen (of Foyle's War fame) reads this books so beautifully, sometimes it just made me smile. (Even though there was nothing to smile at in the story.) His narration made even the most despicable characters almost charming--and most of the characters in this book are not especially likeable.
Considering the book was first published in 1998, just as Putin came to power for the first time, I found some of Harris' predictions for the future of Russia quite prescient.
I wouldn't say there was a scene I "liked" best, because the book is about such a dystopian world, most of the scenes are quite horrific. But the writing was so good, you believe it could really have happened that way.
Most of the characters in the book are not very likeable and I don't think I'd like to have dinner with any of them! However, Michael Kitchen is welcome any time!
The only thing I found confusing at times, is the book moves back and forth in time a lot at the beginning and I did get lost a few times and have to go back and listen again. (Not, that that was a hardship--just another excuse to hear Michael Kitchen's melodious voice.) In the printed book there were breaks on the page when this happened, but the pauses weren't long enough in the recording to know, at first, that this was happening.
"Gets better the deeper in you get ..."
Have to admit to being hopelessly lost in the beginning because of the number of aged communists - couldn't recall who was who- probably a function of listening, rather than reading this... Once the number of new characters being introduced settles down a good twisting listen although I was left at the end somewhat thinking "so what" ...
"It was probably me."
The third Robert Harris kindle/audio I have read this holiday. The other two were brilliant. I struggled with this one, not least that the political landscape in Russia has changed from when the book was first published and it was hard to reconcile Russia today with the old Russia.
"Over the top"
Someone told me that they could not put the book down and read it overnight, so it is probable that my expectations were too high.
The story was over the top and technically sound was not even throughout.
I like Michael Kitchen but in this reading the quality of his voice did not come through for me.
This is a second book by Robert Harris I listened to and the first one I liked enough to download Archangel.
Of the 5 Robert Harris novels (Fatherland, Pompeii, An Officer And A Spy, Imperium & Archangel) that I have read so far, Archangel is my favourite so far. They are all brilliant. There is something about fiction set in Russia or involving Russians that particularly interests me in the same way that the best James Bond films had a Russian connection. I'm also still fascinated by the Cambridge Spies, John Le Carre's tales of Russian espionage and Russian history. Archangel begins with the death of Stalin and follows with the trail for a mysterious diary and more importantly what the contents of that diary reveal or suggests leading to more interesting revelations. I highly recommend this book.
Builds steadily to an extraordinary conclusion. Sad, haunting and an in depth insight into Russian social history / politics. Great tale well told with pace and sincerity.
Well worth a listen to a cracking yarn
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