How long it took me to figure out that the reason I didn’t know what country the protagonist was from was that the country the protagonist was from was never named and may quite well have been intended to be fictional: Two-thirds. Two-thirds of the book. You know why that is? Because I am dumb.
The Road Home was a gift from the lovely Fiona of The Book Coop. Fiona’s note said “It did cross my mind briefly to buy you Rose Tremain’s whole works”, and y’all, I have to say I am in great sympathy with this position. If I could buy all of you the complete works of Diana Wynne Jones and send it to you by tomorrow’s post, I would do it. Maybe very gradually, like maybe I would send y’all two of her books every year on your birthdays, until at last you all owned everything she’d ever written. Don’t you wish I were wealthy?
Lev is leaving his home in Eastern Europe to seek work in England, to get a job that will pay enough for him to send money back to his mother and daughter. His wife died several years ago. Though at first he can’t get enough money together to cover his lodgings, he pretty soon gets a job as a dishwasher in a posh restaurant in London. He makes friends with his landlord, with a fellow emigrant from his country, with one of the sous-chefs at his restaurant. Meanwhile he has begun to hear rumors about the fate of his hometown.
When I started reading The Road Home, I was afraid it was going to be a lot of unpleasant characters and painfully awkward situations. I thought Lev was going to wander the city homeless for months and months, and everyone was going to be mean to him, and it was going to end up a bitter commentary on the plight of immigrants in London and how they can’t win no matter what they do because the system sucks and so do people. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were nice characters and Lev could find things to make himself happy. Even when I wasn’t on board with Lev as a person (there were a number of moments like that), I enjoyed the people around him: his landlord, his friend Rudy, an old lady at a nursing home where he sometimes cooks.
This was one of those books that I enjoyed even though it is not that kind of book. I am not, by and large, wild about modern mainstream fiction. With exceptions! Of course. But I’m just saying, by and large, I don’t go seeking out modern mainstream fiction. Which is why I love having a book blog, and why I love being in a book club: because then I read stuff that’s out of my comfort zone. My brain: broadened! Broadened by the dual power of y’all’s awesomeness and…what?
THAT IS RIGHT. MY TBR SHELF. MY WONDERFUL TBR SHELF.
Did I miss yours?