Petrograd

William Owen Roberts, trans. from the Welsh by Elisabeth Roberts. Parthian (parthianbooks.com), $14 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-909844-56-8
Underdeveloped characters and trite situations undermine this first in a historical trilogy from Roberts (Bingo!), a Wales Book of the Year Award winner. Most of the story, which begins in 1916 and runs through 1924, is the coming-of-age narrative of Russian Alyosha Alexandrov, who's introduced as a horny 13-year-old who lusts after his French governess. The story arc follows predictable lines as the fortunes of the Alexandrov family rise and fall during the Russian Revolution, with Alyosha himself going from a child of privilege to an independent teen scrambling just to stay alive. Meanwhile, the battle for control of the country between Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Kerensky fails to engage, since these real-life figures are as thin as the fictional ones. Readers should also be prepared for some clich├ęd prose ("In spite of all his trials, Alyosha felt deep in his heart that his life was just about to begin"). (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016
Release date: 01/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
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