Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Moonlight in Odessa:A Novel

Synopsis/Book Blurb Description:

A tragic-comic look at the flourishing market for e-mail order brides, Moonlight in Odessa is a novel about the choices and sacrifices that people make in pursuit of love and stability, and the lengths that we will go to to help - and hinder - each other in search of a happy ending. Odessa , Ukraine is the humour capital of the former Soviet Union, but with prices rising and employment prospects falling, there is little for Odessans to laugh about. After months of searching, Daria, twenty-five and armed with an engineering degree and perfect English, is offered a plum job as a secretary at a foreign company. But there's a stone in every plum, and in this case, it's her new boss Mr. Harmon, who makes it clear that sleeping with him should be the first item on her to-do list. Loath to give up her newfound perks (the taste of real coffee, a new apartment and a salary she and her grandmother can actually live on), Daria manages to evade Harmon's advances by recruiting her neighbour, the slippery Olga, to be his mistress - a plan that ends up working only too well And so Daria finds herself moonlighting as an interpreter at Soviet Unions , a dating agency specializing in finding gorgeous Odessan brides for lonely Americans. Daria - so adept at spotting the cracks in the relationships she facilitates - soon discovers that she is not immune to the temptations of the American dream herself. An email correspondence with an apparently shy and sensitive American teacher who offers her a new life in San Francisco, leaves her facing a choice between her beloved city - not to mention the attentions of Vlad, a worryingly attractive mafia gangster - and her long-dreamt-of escape to the land of the free.

My Thoughts:
My overall impression of this book is postitive. I feel like the writing was strong, good use of detail and atmosphere. My conflict about a more postive review is due to plot. I found the first half of the book really enjoyable. I loved Daria and her grandmother. Really strong, likable characters. I felt less enamoured with who Daria became and how the plot and writing reflected that. I think what I really liked about the first half was the palatable mix of dark and humour. It was candid writing about the more sinister and bitter side of her life, without sacrificing infusing humor and love and warmth into the narrative. As the plot progressed, I simply did not care as much what happened to Daria. I felt the plot veered into a conventional framework that I was so enjoying seeing toyed with. I still think it was a good book. It was a good lighter read when in my opinion, it could have been much more than that. I still look forward to further writing from this author. Did not turn into the kind of book I could love, but still a book I liked