Posts Tagged ‘when the doves disappeared’

when-the-doves-disappeared

I just finished reading Sofi Oksanen’s new book “When The Doves Disappeared”. “When the Doves Disappeared” is a story of occupation, resistance, and collaboration in Estonia during and after World War II. The novel follows the experiences of three characters: Roland, a principled independence fighter; his cousin Edgar, who will do almost anything to hide his secrets and maintain his connection to those in power; and Edgar’s wife Juudit, who is buffeted in turns by her love for a German officer, her fear of returning to her unhappy, unconsummated marriage, and her bond with the idealistic Roland.

The book is based on historical facts and switches between 1940’s and 1960’s. The biggest character is Edgar who is willing to do anything to stay in power and who collaborates with Germans in the beginning of WWII and then with Russians who also invade Estonia. Edgar hides all traces of him collaborating with Germans and starts to collaborate with Russians delivering to them lists of people who collaborated with the Germans. He is married to Juudit but in fact Edgar is homosexual. Edgar is a master at forging documents and making up backup stories. And he is also very paranoid about being discovered who he really is. Roland is a true Estonian man – brave, honest and loyal to his own country, he saves people when he can and has principles. Juudit is a complex character because she is unhappily married to a wrong man, then she starts an affair with a high German officer and then has a strong bond with Roland also. She also has a drinking problem and she stays with Edgar until the end.

This book is catchy because with every chapter you get a little piece of a puzzle and you just want to get the whole picture together and keep on reading. It’s also a complex story that switches through time and needs thinking along when reading. The ending is surprising and confusing at the same time. I think the reader must draw his/her own conclusion in the end.  I liked the story, I found the characters interesting and I had a lot to think about when I finished the book.

Here are some other reviews about Oksanens new book:

Oksanen masterfully constructs her world; paranoia and fear drip like sweat from the pages.

—   Me Naiset (Finland)

When the Doves Disappeared is powerful and convincing. Oksanen lives up to all the expectations… Oksanen unites political history, micro history, and fiction in an intelligent way. She explores how human kind adapts to ever-changing circumstances.
— MTV3 (Finland)

Sofi Oksanen’s new novel was worth waiting for… As in her previous works, the personal is strongly political also here. The individual, who is torn in the crossfire between different ideologies, crouches in the wings that conceal secrets, shame and fear. Although certain decisions can have terrifying consequences, they are not necessarily a result of evil. A betrayal can be the only route to survival. Oksanen is a master at rendering people in precisely those circumstances.
— Kaleva (Finland)

I definitely recommend this book. It’s something different 🙂