Reviews

Library Journal
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Whitbread award winner Tremain recounts the story of Lev, who, like many of his compatriots (in fact, 16,000 a month on average since 2004), flees Eastern Europe for London. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

After the death of his wife, Lev leaves his unnamed Eastern European country for London to try and make enough money to support his mother and daughter. His only contact with home becomes a series of cell-phone calls with his hilarious and irrepressible best friend and with his depressed mother. Through his journey, Lev becomes a sort of anti-Candide, starting off depressed and pessimistic and then experiencing a series of happy accidents and good relationships that give him hope and allow him to rebuild his life and sense of self. Lev manages to be both a symbol of migrant workers and a fully developed character in his own right. Not all of the characters in the book are so lucky, especially Sophie, a young coworker-love interest, who morphs from charitable ingénue to fame-obsessed femme fatale with little explanation. Overall, this is an engaging, enjoyable, and informative read.--Block, Marta Segal Copyright 2008 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Widower Lev, the quintessential "everyman," arrives in London from an economically deprived area of Russia, armed with only a cursory knowledge of English and some bad financial advice. Aided by the kindness of strangers and a passionate zeal to provide a better life for his daughter, Maya, Lev takes pride in his lowly kitchen work at the renowned G.K. Ashe Restaurant while observing and absorbing the ways of its demanding chef. The author fills the pages with terrifically flawed yet redeemable secondary characters like Lydia, Lev's mentor of sorts; Christy Slane, his Irish landlord whose struggle with alcohol has resulted in a traumatic divorce; and his lover, Sophie, who introduces him to the quirky denizens of Ferndale Heights Nursing Home, in particular, Ruby Constad, who will play an important role in the fulfillment of Lev's dreams. Like Amy Bloom's recent novel, Away, or Ha Jin's A Free Life, Whitbread Award winner Tremain (Music and Silence) has written a worthy addition to the growing body of work centered on the loneliness and frustration of the immigrant experience. Recommended for all larger fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/08.]--Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
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Tremain (Restoration) turns in a low-key but emotionally potent look at the melancholia of migration for her 14th book. Olev, a 42-year-old widower from an unnamed former east bloc republic, is taking a bus to London, where he imagines every man resembles Alec Guinness and hard work will be rewarded by wealth. He has left behind a sad young daughter, a stubborn mother and the newly shuttered sawmill where he had worked for years. His landing is harsh: the British are unpleasant, immigrants are unwelcome, and he's often overwhelmed by homesickness. But Lev personifies Tremain's remarkable ability to craft characters whose essential goodness shines through tough, drab circumstances. Among them are Lydia, the fellow expatriate; Christy, Lev's alcoholic Irish landlord who misses his own daughter; and even the cruelly demanding Gregory, chef-proprietor of the posh restaurant where Lev first finds work. A contrived but still satisfying ending marks this adroit emigre's look at London. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved