Twenty-nine-year-old Anna Viktorovna lives in Moscow with her young son and her father, a once popular and respected poet who has fallen into disgrace because of his dissident views. Her husband, a junior officer in the Red Army, is on active duty and living seven time zones away. Anna struggles gamely through her difficult existence, doing the best she can amidst the long lines, bureaucratic inferno, and corruption and incompetence of the police state. When she meets and makes an impression on a powerful Soviet official—Alexey Bulgyakov—her life begins to look a little brighter. Alexey is married and nearly twice her age, but he turns out to be a man of infinite patience and forbearance, and gradually a strange but solid bond grows between them. Though Anna still loves her mostly absent husband and harbors no illusions about the future, she and Alexey become lovers.
Soon Anna and Alexey’s burgeoning romance is irrevocably threatened when a KGB colonel forces Anna to spy on Alexey, who is suspected of disloyalty to the state. Though Anna loathes the notion of double-crossing the man she has come to love, when her family is threatened she must comply. But Anna isn’t the only character playing a double game.
With bravura storytelling, stunning authenticity, and complex yet sympathetic characterizations, The Russian Affair depicts a love that struggles to survive against all odds and despite its many-layered deceptions.
About the Author
MICHAEL WALLNER is the author of the international sensation April in Paris. He lives in Germany, where he is an actor and screenwriter, and divides his time between Berlin and the Black Forest.
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Nan A. Talese (April 12, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780385532396
- ISBN-13: 978-0385532396
Anna, a house painter, lives with her ill son and her former poet, now alcoholic father barely making ends meet since her husband is mostly absent while away in the army. The story takes place during the Cold War in the 1970’s and describes the dismal and bleak existence that Anna must endure. The only bright spot in her life is her affair with Alexey, a married man, twice her age. The KGB threaten the relationship by forcing Anna to spy on him. Alexey, a true player in espionage feeds Anna false information to put the KGB off the track while he plans to defect. Anna confesses to Alexey her double dealing and dashes any hope of continuing the relationship. She then tries to mend her relationship with her husband, but receives a letter from him that he is in love with another woman. Oh, but wait! Anna may be able to redeem herself with Alexey — you will have to read the book to see if that works out. Whew!
There are lots of twists and turns getting to the end of this book and it is filled with the dense machinations of Cold War politics and very descriptive. The book did has a sort of thrilling part to it and I wondered whether Anna would finally be happy, but I still got the sense that in Russia during this time period, the chance that anyone could possibly be happy under the dire circumstance of mistrust and poverty that are every day life were pretty small. If you like stories about the Cold War, this is a nice peak inside that time period with a little romance thrown in.
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