Hester's Reviews > Zugzwang

Zugzwang by Ronan Bennett
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's review
Jun 03, 2012

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bookshelves: novels, russia, mystery
Read in May, 2012

I read the advance copy of the book, so my review may not be fitting if the book changed significantly before it was released. This novel is told from the point of view of a Jewish psychoanalyst in St. Petersburg at the beginning of the 20th century. Both he and setting are charming; he is an erudite chess player in a world of fine French cuisine and classical music, but Bennett quickly shows us the ugly side of Russia.

The narrator is clearly limited by his time and profession. At the beginning of the book, I found his daughter disturbing, but as the book unfolds, I realized that she might know a lot that we, the readers, do not. The author does not tie up all the ends by the book's conclusion, so we are still left confused after finishing the story.

There is an incredibly explicit (and not quite mainstream) sex scene about halfway through the book; you may not want to read it in public.

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