Reading fiction that takes place in Russia is always fascinating. I thank Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for sending me a copy of Salt the Snow by Carrie Callaghan at no charge for my honest review.
About Salt the Snow:
Fom Carrie Callaghan, author of the critically acclaimed A Light of Her Own, comes a story of the trailblazing and liberated Milly Bennett, based on the life of one of the first female war correspondents whose work has been all but lost to history. American journalist Milly Bennett has covered murders in San Francisco, fires in Hawaii, and a civil war in China, but 1930s Moscow presents her greatest challenge yet. When her young Russian husband is suddenly arrested by the secret police, Milly tries to get him released. But his arrest reveals both painful secrets about her marriage and hard truths about the Soviet state she has been working to serve. Disillusioned, and pulled toward the front lines of a captivating new conflict, Milly must find a way to do the right thing for her husband, her conscience, and her heart.
About the Author:
Carrie Callaghan is a writer living in Maryland with her spouse, two young children, and two ridiculous cats. Her short fiction has appeared in Weave Magazine, The MacGuffin, Silk Road, Floodwall, and elsewhere. Carrie is also an editor and contributor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
I did not know when I accepted this book for review that it was based on a real person. For me that always makes a novel more interesting and it tends to send me off on a researching binge. Sometimes I end up down a reading rabbit hole thanks to what I find and I love that. Salt the Snow introduces Milly Bennet, a journalist who goes to Russia during the Depression to explore the building of Socialism. After the collapse of the financial system in the United States she sees the rebuilding going on and the promise of a new society as something hopeful but as history has shown us post revolution Russia was anything but a glorious experiment.
Milly is a very unique woman for her time as she has this job in the first place and she tends to run through men like water. I can’t say that I liked her as a character. It was hard to be sympathetic with her blind belief in the Russian system that was so obviously not working. It was only when she tried to buck it in support of her husband – a man whose true reality was in front of her but she refused to recognize, much like the political system she was cheerleading – that she started to see things clearly.
The story was a little confusing and for me a few aspects just plain didn’t make sense. But when dealing with real life it is said that truth is stranger than fiction. The writing is not to be faulted; it is compelling and Ms. Callaghan sets her scenes with skill whether it’s a run down apartment in Moscow or a war torn village in Spain. The frigid cold of a Russian winter is felt as the reader walks with a character through the night. I swear I needed my lap blanket while reading!
Arguably Milly Bennett was a woman ahead of her time but it was just hard to get behind her as she seemed to be an unhappy, unpleasant woman. At least for me it’s difficult to fall in love with a book with a main character that you can’t really get behind. What I did enjoy was the obviously well researched forays into life in Russia into life after the Revolution.
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two signed copies of Salt the Snow by Carrie Callaghan! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
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