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, Sophie van Llewyn’s novella-in-flash draws upon magic realism to weave a tale of everyday troubles, that can’t be put down.
‘A lovely, funny, sad and informative book…It almost reads like a Wes Anderson film‘ — Dolly Alderton, author of international bestseller Everything I Know About Love
‘Sophie van Llewyn’s stunning debut novella shows us there is no dystopian fiction as frightening as that which draws on history.‘ — Christina Dalcher, author of VOX
‘A story to savour, to smile at, to rage against and to weep over.’ — Zoe Gilbert, author of Folk
‘The prose is tight, witty, vivid and atmospheric […] Every word on the page pulls its weight’ — Litro
‘This is an impressive debut in the tradition of Eastern European Absurdist fiction.‘ — Jude Higgins, Bath Flash Fiction Award organiser
‘Sophie van Llewyn has brought light into an era which cast a long shadow.’ — Joanna Campbell, author of When Planets Slip Their Tracks
‘This stunning historical novella […] is both tense and atmospheric’ — Mslexia
‘A powerful, sophisticated, and emotional delve into Soviet-era Romania through the eyes and heart of a young woman. […] an exciting plot-driven read that offers a thoughtful, introspective look into a woman reaching maturity under a government that isn’t built for girls who ask questions.’ — Independent Book Review
‘The uncertainties of life and love, and the insatiable quest for freedom – bottled neatly in a set of stories that captivate and enchant.‘ — Michelle Elvy, coordinator of New Zealand’s Flash Fiction Day and Bath Flash Fiction Award judge
‘A tour de force, a harrowing and ultimately triumphant story, a must-read by a masterful writer.‘ — Christopher Allen, author of Other Household Toxins
‘A masterful blend of the political and the personal, the magical and the mundane, the historical and the hyperbolic.’ — Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Editor-in-Chief, FlashBack Fiction
‘[A] totally original and wonderful novella.’ — Nikki Bedi, host of The Arts Hour, BBC World Service
‘A dizzying, daring window on life in Ceausescu’s Romania.’ — Stephanie Hutton, author of Three Sisters of Stone
‘A lucid and powerfully affecting story.’ — Helen Rye, winner of the Bath Flash Fiction Award