Featured title: 'The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity' by K. Overman-Edmiston

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About the story ...

 

In the arctic conditions of a Moscow winter, a man drives to the car park of a city hotel. He takes off his hat and coat, lies down in the snow, goes to sleep, and dies.

 
Why?

 

From a window high up in the Hotel Rossiya, a couple looks down upon the figure lying in the snow.  Hannah and Luke have just arrived in Moscow after travelling across Mongolia and Siberia.  They had not seen the Russian leave his car, but they did see the police arrive, take notes, cover the body with a piece of matting, and then leave.

 

The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity charts the story of Pyotr and Yuliya, living in the Soviet Union of the 1960s.  Their tale is interwoven with that of Luke and Hannah travelling the trans-Siberian railway from Beijing to Moscow in the early years of the new millennium.  Their paths collide during the festive season in Moscow, 2002.

 

Set in Russia and China, this story traces two deeply founded relationships that provide insights into love’s tenuous beginnings to its rewards and complexities, and its potential for tragedy.




 

 

 

 
 

Reviews ...


Melissa Jones - Vooworks Reviews


'I can’t recommend this book strongly enough ... it absolutely enthrals and enchants before delivering a heartbreaking twist that sucked the speech out of me for a few moments.  This is the sort of book that haunts and gets revisited.

As all good novels should, The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity delivers on multiple levels.  Using conventions that would betray a less skilled author’s lack of ability, the narrative jumps from place-to-place and time-to-time, successfully delivering a rich characterisation and adding to the development of the plot while reinforcing the peculiarities of each location and period.

I particularly enjoyed the author's setting of the initial sequences in 1962 Moscow.  The Cold War seems to have retreated to the back of our collective mind, maybe it’s easy to forget that people met and fell in love during the period when life could have been wiped out in an instant as a result of a miscommunication.

Like Georgette Heyer, the author has the ability to place a plot within a historical context without soaking the reader in a series of headline insights into the current affairs of the time.  When Pyotr (an excellent name for the character since it came across as strange and familiar all at the same time, much like everything to do with the Soviet Union to a westerner), a literature student, accompanies some university friends to a lecture in a field unrelated to his and falls stupidly for the green-eyed and slim Dr Yuliya Shustova, the reader feels every angst and teenage-like moment of hope, happiness and cruel depression as he rates his chances with her and agonises over every possible word spoken and turn of events.

While we’re given an intimate look into the lives of ordinary Soviets celebrating Christmas behind closed doors, loaning out prohibited copies of the Bible and drinking ‘coffee’ that is made largely from acorns, the reader gets a detailed analysis of post-Soviet Moscow where stores offering overpriced luxury goods invite the contempt of tourists. We get so involved in Pyotr’s pursuit that we don’t notice the absence of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Khrushchev’s cold war manipulations that dominated the lives of everyone paying attention to the media at the time.

The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity is obviously written by someone who has travelled extensively and knows the regions described very well.  I enjoyed the glimpses of character nightmares, personal and otherwise: ‘those awful black and red illness dreams’ and intimate glimpses of a city I associate more easily with those frightening May Day parades.

It isn’t easy to do justice to a work like this.  I couldn’t within the allotted 500 words.  It has to be read.'


Amber Whitman-Currier - The US Review of Books


'This book is among the best books I have ever read. It is touching and the language is beautiful and sensitive. The scope of love, loss, spirituality, camaraderie, family, and more is placed on the human stage. It opens a window into what it means to be real in this chaotic world.'




Chris McLeod, author of Man of Water describes The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity as being ‘excellent and rare’ and ‘having the sensibility of fiction from an earlier era in its leisurely, expansive exposition and gentle tone’.  It is, he says, ‘a very thoughtful and philosophical work that engages with notions of love, loss, tenderness, beauty and spirituality … an impressive piece of work’. 



Susan Hewitt - The West Australian - Weekend Magazine


'This is a mammoth work from a local author and publisher. It is hugely ambitious and has the feel of a writer who has poured her heart and soul into it.  Overman-Edmiston sets up two storylines - one of a young Russian student in Moscow in the 60s and his love affair with a striking university professor; the other of a pair of Australian travel writers riding the train from Beijing to Moscow in 2002. 


 (it) ... reads like a Russian classic, full of philosopy and tragedy.'



Ros Sydes - The Examiner, Hobart


'Two love stories collide in the Moscow winter of 2002.

 

Intense Russian student Pyotr falls for green eyed lecturer Dr Yuliya Shustova.  An exceptional romance builds in spite of the age difference.  Her parents and the deaf but wise Aunt Raisa approve of the union.

 

Whereas Australian travel writer and photographer couple travelling the Trans Siberian railway has reached a crisis point in their relationship.

 

Against arctic conditions and amazing scenery, the tension builds.

 

Slow to start, this book is worthy of persistence.  It's a moving tale about the intricacies of love leading to not only perfect moments, but also desolate lows.'