Title: Bottled Goods
Author: Sophie van Llewyn
Publisher: Fairlight Books
Publication Date: 11 July 2018
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley
When Alina’s brother-in-law defects to the West, she and her husband become persons of interest to the secret services, causing both of their careers to come grinding to a halt.
As the strain takes its toll on their marriage, Alina turns to her aunt for help – the wife of a communist leader and a secret practitioner of the old folk ways.
Set in 1970s communist Romania, this novella-in-flash draws upon magic realism to weave a tale of everyday troubles, that can’t be put down.
This delightful novella blends historical fiction and magical realism, and it so captivated me, I read it in a single sitting. From the start, we get a sense of the claustrophobic world in which Alina lives. The short chapters move us swiftly from one moment to the next, the gaps in time mirroring the disjointed nature of Alina's life following her brother-in-law's defection. Alina came across wonderfully as a character; I was with her every step of the way. The prose is lyrical yet simple, and I loved the way the fantastical elements seeped effortlessly amidst the dire and mundane. Definitely one to read if you enjoy magical realism, or if you are interested in what life was like in communist-era Romania.