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“[It’s] been my pleasure reading and re-reading it over the past months … A terrific, compelling story … No matter where you end up you never really escape Russia … Not a mystery novel per se, but it manages to carry a sense of mystery over more than a hundred thousand words, and that is called Art.”
“In A Question of Return, Robert Carr interweaves the dark forces of Stalinist Russia with the light of contemporary Canada. Naturally, the two narratives meet as they should and must, the former casting its long shadow over the latter. But these histories are personal too. When Russian émigré Art Laukhin falls for the incurably western Audrey Millay, the darkness of their own lives and memories casts a pall over what might have been a great romance. A Question of Return is a profound, rich, layered and compelling story, a must read.”
In 1931, apprehensive about her return to the Soviet Union, Marina Tsvetayeva wrote from Paris to a friend, “Here I am unnecessary. There I am impossible.” She did return in 1939. Betrayed by her husband, ignored by her friends, caught up in the Stalinist nightmare, she was dead within two years.Four decades later, Artyom (Art) Laukhin, a Soviet poet famous worldwide but no longer able to publish in his own country, made the opposite – westward – journey. He sent ahead of him the journal his father had kept between the mid nineteen-thirties and the late nineteen-fifties. A writer of popular spy stories much enjoyed by Stalin himself, his father had been in the middle of the Soviet literary life and had kept a secret record of it.The novel opens in 1985, in Toronto, where the poet has been working toward transforming his father’s notebooks into a publishable literary journal. Laukhin teaches, reads the proofs, works on a long introduction, gives interviews. He cannot avoid the insular world of émigré writers/artists, with its backstabbing, pettiness, envy, failures, push and pull of memories. He worries that his days as a poet are over. At a soiree he meets and falls in love with the very attractive Audrey Millay, in Toronto from London (UK) for – her words – “a sabbatical from married life”.
Laukhin is revising and linking all Tsvetayeva-related entries in his father’s journal into a narration about the poetess. The excerpts, interspersed between the chapters of the latter-day story, depict the blows Tsevtayeva receives on her return to the Soviet Union.
The two narrative strands – Laukhin’s and Tsevtayeva’s – come together toward the end of the novel, with the past encroaching onto Laukhin's life.
FICTION Pub Date. October 2015 Available Mosac-Press.com or order from IPG(US)/ Gazelle Book Services(UK/EU) / Manda Group(Canada) 6 X 9 inches 320 pages Price: $24.95 CDN, $19.95 USD ISBN PB: 978-177161-147-3