Walking through Leningrad in 1986 Stephanie cannot know what her relationship with Sergei will become. This chance meeting could become the beginning of a friendship, perhaps romance. Or this meeting might not be chance at all. But why should Sergei want a relationship with Stephanie, on a short visit from France to study the poetry of Pushkin?
Sergei wants an exit visa. Marriage can give him that.
Back in Paris, married, will Sergei desert the woman who gave him his way out? He seems to have connections with the publishers of samizdat literature, but he is not a strong rebel. Shouldn't he be hanging on for the reforms being introduced by Tovarich Gorbachev?
Stephanie has a family, and that family is emigre itself.
Does Sergei want to know about the family? Is he reporting back to the KGB?
Sergei does not have to report back. He is taking Stephanie to chateaux already wired and recording.
And, most of all, Sergei has a mum. And mum is finding out what the KGB can do to the families of those overseas who do not toe the party line. Sergie knows what they are doing.
Who are they? Are they simply the bureaucracy continuing with their thoughtless brutality and senseless controls? Are they the conservatives opposed to the reforms? After all, Stephanie's family write children's stories, how can they be political?
It is not political. It is personal.
How it all comes down to personalities I shall not reveal. It took me a long time, and a struggle to read on, to find out. This is a sort-of romance, rather than a thriller or novel of suspense. Sergei and Stephanie might have been lovers, living against the great events of the end of the USSR. Patricia le Roy has said that there would have been as many haters as lovers at work at the same time. Communism did not fall quickly enough to take away their power, and the angels, mostly, were fallen.
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