Does anyone remember those pictures from our youth—those ones with objects hidden within the picture—a dog composed of the leaves of a tree, a face hidden in the grain of a wooden barn, blades of grass being the whiskers of a cat which one could see clearly if the picture were turned slightly? Remember those pictures? This novel is perfect for those who loved those pictures (well, perfect for those who aren’t I). A perfect opportunity for those who love thinking, “this must be xxx” “that must mean yyy” “oooooh, they’re headed to the river [again], this MUST be a baptism”—conjuring the worst memories of Thomas C. Foster ’s simplistic approach to literature.
Our evening was pretentious, glorious, and involved wandering Soho for hours before deciding that we needed a drink, and that not speaking Russian or living in 1940s Soviet Russia was no bar to recognising the novel as a masterpiece. That evening led to another and somewhere down the line we decided to get married. Every year, we try to find a new edition or a poster, a foreign edition or a first printing. A framed poster of the 1967 Signet paperback hangs on the wall outside our bedroom. We have the boxed set of the 2005 series Vladimir Bortko did for Russian television in the sitting room. It's a book that changed my life not once but twice.