Tag Archives: “Andrea Bennett”

Vanya Demalovich has finished reading… Two Cousins Of Azov by Andrea Bennett

8 Jun

azov

How nice it is to be back in Azov. How nice to involve oneself in the everyday of post-soviet, pre-Putin Russia. The eagle-eyed among you might recognise a certain Mr Goryoun Tigranovich Papasyan, co-protagonist of Andrea Bennett’s latest instalment on life in Azov (can we hope this will one day bloom into a Barsetshire-sized chronicle?), as the neighbour whose absence lays the first steps of Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story.

Things are not going well for the Two Cousins Of Azov. The aforementioned Gor finds himself plagued by inexplicable events, while his cousin Tolya is at the local sanatorium with no idea how he got there, lost in folklore and memory. Dry, sceptical Gor and artistic, impressionable Tolya each seek a route into their past to try and unpick the mystery of the things that haunt them in the present. A vivid and varied cast attend to help or hinder the search, including an appearance from a character from Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story that will delight fans of Andrea Bennett’s debut. I particularly liked Albina. She is unmistakably and infuriatingly teenaged, but also wonderfully and heart-warmingly teenaged. And she lisps, which never fails to make Mrs Van smile when I read it to her.

The author’s eye for the comedic scene remains sharp as ever. There’s a dryness to the humour that certainly suits me, and sits very well with the characters. Not being overplayed, it also serves to set up those necessary moments of pathos well. These are characters to feel for and identify with, and while the distance between them and us, and now and then may be great, the beauty of the book is that their problems are not so different to our problems. These are things that could happen anywhere. Who knows, you might even know someone like them!

Andrea Bennett’s Two Cousins Of Azov is ideal for your holiday reading, and if you’ve not caught up with Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story, I encourage you to pick up both books. You can laugh, and maybe cry a bit too, and feel the welcome chill of autumn in Azov while you slowly cook in the sun!

 

Two Cousins Of Azov will be published on 13th July 2017 by Borough Press ISBN:9780008159573

You can find Andrea on Twitter @Andreawiderword

My thanks to Ann Bissell at HarperCollins for allowing me to review this book.

Vanya Demalovich has finished reading…Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story

4 Feb

Do Russians really talk like that? Alas I don’t know enough Russians to bring personal experience to bear on the question, though Andrea Bennett lived there so she must know. I like to harbour a secret suspicion that all those dour expressions and long-winded almost formal sentences that populate the received wisdom are a front to disguise how funny they are. If the dialogue in Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged-Dog Story is anything to go by then the pensioners at least are very funny indeed.

Borough Press were kind enough to send me a special copy of this book, complete with flick-book animation running across the bottom of the page. It’s testament to how engaging this story is that I riffled the pages before I began, and then again only after I’d finished. It’s a truly engrossing read, sad and knowing and also genuinely funny. There’s a very heavy leaning toward caricature with some of the characters, though Andrea Bennett is well aware of where to draw the line with this; it never felt over-done. Don’t doubt that the people in this book are finely-honed and three-dimensional. Their hopes, their fears, their pasts and their current predicaments infect the voices Bennett has given them, and the dead-pan delivery is weighted perfectly. With the phonetic rendering of Depeche Mode songs, I was reminded of living in Spain and the day my neighbour got his guitar out and murdered U2’s ‘One’ at the top of his voice. For half an hour. At least this time I could laugh!

I found myself reminded of Michael Frayn in the willingness with which anything and everything that could go amiss did, yet again in so believable a manner I never felt my engagement stretched. And it made a really nice change to have a phalanx of pensioners leading the charge through this tale without the obligatory summing-up-my-life-in-flashbacks that tend to accompany them elsewhere in fiction. I for one hope fervently that, when this book gets picked up and made into a film they don’t skimp on the Moscow nightclub scene. Bohemian indeed!

It’s a delightful book, a picaresque that cuts its world wide open with dextrous wit.

Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged-Dog Story was published by The Borough press on 12th February 2015, ISBN:9780008108380
You can find Andrea on Twitter @andreawiderword and at her website, andreabee.wix.com/andreabennett