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"The Mermaid's Child" by Jo Baker
In this fantastical novel, the acclaimed author of "Longbourn" brings us the magical story of a young girl in search of her mother - who just might be a mermaid.
Ivan Ardabyev works at Station nine, a settlement in the Soviet Union run by the secret police and one of the refuelling stops of the Zero Train; a train that passes through daily carrying an unknown cargo to an unknown destination. But things start to disintegrate ; the army leave and people leave. Just Ardabyev stays , a man the political master said they could always rely on.... A short fable/parable of the way men are so easily controlled and governed by dogmas and ideals they have no feeling for or knowledge of. We just service the great beast that, in the end, dies after its era of murder and destruction has passed, just to be replaced by something pretty much the same; mans next big idea. Claiming to create justice freedom and equality, all of our great political ideals have done the opposite. This is a great tale, its just that I can't help feeling this loses the power and impact it would have had if it were published in the 60's or 70's. Its more than common knowledge that the Soviet/communist system was an abysmal failure, but this allows the naïve to think 'It cant happen here'; I just felt the message would have more impact if set in a world similar to the one created by Orwell in '1984' where the huge warning is about politics and its all consuming insatiable appetite for power. But that's because I did read all the major Soviet dissident novels when their impact really hit; captured the zeitgeist of the times back then, but that era is gone. A great book I cant fault , its -just for me- a road I've been on many times before, but then again, one so easy for us to slip back onto...
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