Wednesday 21 August 2019

Book Review: Isolde by Irena Odoevtseva (Modern Classic)

Title: Isolde
Author: Irena Odoevtseva
Pushkin Press

Publication Date: 5 November 2019
eBook - PDF
Modern Classic
ARC via NetGalley


Left to her own devices in Biarritz, fourteen-year-old Russian Liza meets an older English boy, Cromwell, on a beach. He thinks he has found a magical, romantic beauty and insists upon calling her Isolde; she is taken with his Buick and ability to pay for dinner and champagne.

Disaffected and restless, Liza, her brother Nikolai and her boyfriend Andrei enjoy Cromwell's company in restaurants and jazz bars after he follows Liza back to Paris--until his mother stops giving him money. When the siblings' own mother abandons them to follow a lover to Nice, the group falls deeper into its haze of alcohol, and their darker drives begin to take over.

Isolde was an enjoyable read. She was a fascinating character who was, in many ways, hard to pin down, perhaps because she was still too young to really know herself. However, she reminded me of Lolita in some ways, as she clearly was aware of the effect she had on men and how to use that to best advantage. Once or twice, I did wonder why the men in the tale were so obsessed with her. She could be annoying, so I guess it must have come down solely to looks. I don't want to risk spoilers, but the story did take a direction I hadn't expected at the outset, and that helped hold my interest from start to finish. This is not so much a book with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Rather it's a snapshot of a formative period in a young girl's life. Where she goes once the final page is turned is left to the reader's imagination.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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