I enjoyed this book as it has a good plot, well-rounded characters and is set in an interesting historical period.

It begins in Azerbaijan in 1919 when Livvy and Peter decide they must leave and return to England after all the unrest in that region. They set out with their baby on a hazardous journey across Bolshevik and White Russian territory to Archangel. The second half of the story is set back in England, where many families are suffering losses from the war but also from influenza.

I liked the character of Livvy and really empathised with her and I liked the way social and political issues were introduced through different people and their situations. However, there were a few aspects I wasn’t so keen on. I found the present tense narrative with flashbacks sometimes a bit confusing and I think a straightforward following of the story would have worked better. Also, there is quite a lot of repetition – I didn’t need to be told so many times of Livvy’s love for Peter.

So, an interesting and intelligent story of love and loss, escape and trying to rebuild lives, but it could perhaps have done with some more editing. Well worth a read though.

Berwyn Peet 3/3

Beyond the Samovar by Janet Hancock
The Conrad Press 9781911546511 pbk Mar 2019