In the coldest winter in history, in a starving city under siege, two prisoners are thrown together on a desperate adventure.
Lev, a shy, chess-loving teenager and Kolya, a charismatic chancer.
They are given one week to complete an extraordinary mission: to scour the ravaged countryside and find a dozen eggs.
Or come back empty handed, and die.
Set in St Petersburg, my favourite city, I couldn’t wait to devour this book. I actually chose to read a different book first when I received a pile for Christmas, because I was looking forward to this so much, but at the same time a little afraid I would be disappointed.
I had nothing to worry about. The descriptions were magical, I felt like I was transported back to Piter, although in another time. The story itself was simple in it’s way but beautifully told. The characters really came to life for me – I wanted to be friends with them, which isn’t something I often think about people in a book. It even had cannibals – what’s not to like?
I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.
I had a look on Goodreads, and it’s currently got a score of 4.23/5 which is very impressive. The people who didn’t like it seemed to have an issue with the story within a story plot device, not knowing if this was in fact a story about the author’s grandfather or not. He says it’s not, and I wasn’t that concerned about it, curious, but it didn’t let me spoil my enjoyment of the book.
The loneliest sound in the world is other people making love.
The other problem people seemed to have is with the violence, sex and swearing which was apparently used excessively throughout the book. Honestly, I didn’t notice. I suppose it’s a bit violent and gruesome in places, and yeah, there’s some sex/wanking. I’m quite sweary myself, so the bad language wasn’t going to offend me – although I do try and control my use of the bad-c-word in company. There were some wonderfully inventive ways of swearing in the book which sounded delightfully Russian, sadly I can’t remember any of them now.
‘Does this story ever end? Are you going to keep talking for the rest of my life?’
It’s great when you read a work of fiction and it makes you want to research the facts and find out everything you possibly can about a period of history. This is how I’m feeling now. It’s also great when you read a book which your boyfriend bought for you and which he (as a non-reader, generally) has said he’s going to read after you because he saw how much you enjoyed it (no pressure, Ben).
Maybe it’s because I know the place, but City of Thieves left me with a warm and nostalgic feeling for St Petersburg. This must be the nicest way to feel when you finish a book. Cosy.