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Ice Road

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  407 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Leningrad. 1933. Loyalties, beliefs, love and family ties: all are about to be tested to the limit in a fight to see who will survive one of the most crushing moments the world will ever know. Boris Ivanov, the father who understands politics and pragmatism; his daughter Natasha, a carefree, delightful girl who will be almost crushed because of political compromises; Anton ...more
Paperback, 534 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Virago Press (UK) (first published January 1st 2004)
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3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  407 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Beth (bibliobeth)
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book that I heartily recommend. I am very interested in Russian history over the Stalin years and this novel brought the whole period vividly to life for me. Read it and weep!
Nuzhat Saadia
Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like character driven stories.
A chance purchase from Readings that turned out to be actually quite good. The narrative spans across almost a decade and the reader must maintain a more than elementary interest in pre-war Russian history to digest all of the details.

However, this is a character driven novel and Slovo makes the most of her insight in to the human mind with each characters she weaves in to the story. The characters don't come from the story, the stories come from them; they are gritty, funny, ugly yet fragile a
Gumble's Yard
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
Book set almost entirely in Leningrad (although at the start of the book one character – Irina a cleaner – is on a Soviet steamship attempting an arctic expedition and which gets trapped and eventually sunk by ice) in three main eras: the early-mid 1930s up to the murder of the Party Head in the City; an interlude in the later 1930s when one of the characters is arrested in a purge for anti-communist statements and eventually executed; the declaration of war and the horrors of the German siege.

Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was very affected by this book. It was surprisingly well researched, but I was also very impressed by how the pain and suffering of generation under Stalin came out so vividly in the human stories. The characters will haunt you long after you are done with the book. And had I mention how well researched it was? This is part of my culture and history, so I do know. Funny, I dont know if the writer intended that, but one of the main characters Natasha felt as if she was in a sense inspired by th ...more
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leningrad is in the grip of winter. Winter with a capitol W. In The Ice Road, by Gillain Slovo it is always winter. The winter of 1933 brings more than the usual grumblings about food and fuel shortages, politics in whats left of the revolution's aftermath and what your neighbor might possibly be up to. When the city's feared and respected leader, Kirov is assassinated, the already vicious and corrupt Stalin government spins out of control. Over the course of the next ten years, perpetual outsid ...more
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-fiction
I would really like to give this 3.5 stars but 4 will have to do.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this novel and I ended up really enjoying it. There are several narrators, a device I appreciate, and the story kept me interested throughout the 500+ pages of the novel.

The plot follows several citizens of Leningrad over a ten year time period during Stalin's reign. I thought Slovo captured the paranoia and fear of that time very well and her characters were believable. My complaints are that she
Apr 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Books are so interesting when they are from a time and culture not familiar to one. This particular story takes place during the siege of Leningrad during WWII. The characters are very human and we start with Natasha young and in love and where her life goes from there. Unfortunately that happy time doesn't last but she does find life worth living for she has a young daughter counting on her.
There are various other characters in the book, all with their own stories. I enjoyed the book very muc
Andy Weston
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful tale of interlinked lives building up the the German invasion and siege of Leningrad just before the war.
The pillar of the story is a cleaning lady, Ira. The book begins with Ira's story as she is 'selected' to be part of a crew of a foolhardy boat heading up to the Arctic as winter begins.
The cold plays a significant role throughout, but it is only as the Germans arrive at the edge of town that the story really comes to strength. The last section is very special and Slovo
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Set during a period of Russian History that I suspect most of us know little about - pre WWII - it shows the struggle of a family and a country. Beautiful, and painful and sad, but also uplifting. This is not a happy story, but is a compelling one. Read with one of my reading groups and it instigated one of our most wide-ranging and earnest discussions about life and the fate of individuals and countries.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
It is a topic that is supposed to interest me. The premise of the book is intriguing and extremely promising. However, I am not sure that the author has managed to capture the spirit of this excruciating time. The main characters have Russian names, but they are not believable. They could be placed pretty much anywhere, and none of them could create any sense of warmth. Although I read about the emotions they were experiencing in some detail, they came across as flat and emotionless.

Overall, I s
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
I grabbed this book because Russian stories are perfect for winter - and I was correct in that regard. Takes place during a 10 year span of the Stalin years in Leningrad, ending with the siege. Most of it takes place in the winter, and I loved the dreamy writing that perfectly encapsulated the not-quite-real feeling the world has on a damp and snowy day. What I did not like was how sad this story was, and how characters died pointless, frustrating deaths and went through frustrating unfulfilling ...more
Ste Babur
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
I loved the writing style of this book as the author seamlessly moved from third to first present tense. It wasn't jarring at all. I was just a little bit disappointed about the end. There were some characters I hoped to have a different and happier ending, as well as some I believed, should have had more of a plot in the book. All in all a good read I would recommend.
Mrs Dipti Shah
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stories about how culture and politics organise human lives

I really enjoyed the way the author has tapped into real events to bring the quality of human resilience, humanity and adversity into the forefront.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The unfortunate impact of communism on individual lives, relationships, and communities.
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review published in the New Zealand Herald, 15 May 2004

Ice Road
Gillian Slovo
(Little, Brown)

Reviewed by Philippa Jamieson

Somewhere in the Arctic, 1933. The Chelyuskin is on a scientific and patriotic mission through polar waters from the Soviet Union's west to its far east, but the forces of nature are too great, and the ship becomes ice-bound. There is nothing its crew can do but wait for help to arrive. On board is Irina Davydovna, a cleaner of humble origins. Facing death on the voyage gives h
Jan 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: what-dafuq

This is a really strange book.

Goodreads' perpetually crappy recommendation engine suggested it to me when I was adding a bunch of Arctic-themed books to help me get through the Las Vegas summer.

However, the Arctic bit in this book is barely touched upon. Literally, it's one short chapter and ultimately has nothing to do with the overall story. However, that did not factor into my rating.

What factored into my rating is simply that this book sucks.

It is written in a sort of quiet, stream-of-consci
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: womens-prize
The book is set in a specific time and place in history, Leningrad from 1933 to 1943. It starts with Hitler taking power in Germany and Stalin making himself all powerful in the USSR, then ends with the siege and evacuation of civilians over the Ice Road.
I think Gillian Slovo is more focused on Stalin's betrayal of the revolution than Stalin himself, which as the daughter of communists is understandable. She has former revolutionaries either dying with love for the country and the communist idea
Wendy Greenberg
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stuttered through the beginning of this novel. 1930s Soviet Russia is told in the present tense giving a wholly different perspective on snatches of history with which I thought I had some familiarity. The snatches start with the voyage of The Chelyuskin to the Arctic, setting up the whole book with its background of ice, struggle and the Russian "soul". 1933 then progresses through the Stalin purges and leaves us still in the present, toward the end of the siege of Leningrad.

We follow a serie
Brett Myrdal
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The story of Leningrad between 1917 and 1942, told through the eyes of three women, Irina, Natasha, Anya - telling of the purge's of Stalin which left the Soviet Union open to the devastation of the Nazis, and the will to live and survive the blockade of Leningrad. Coloured the history of the City in the blood and the ice of the terrible times with a soft compassion for the wonder of life, "finally seeing the world not as something to be moulded and improved, but as it is, in all its splendour." ...more
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
The best thing about this book is the cover photograph.

There are some highlights (the account of the ship Chelyuskin trapped in Arctic ice, Stalin's purges, etc.) but they are held together by long, boring chapters about fairly boring people .

There is a bit of everything in the story : love (true love, passionate love, unrequited love), sex, death, politics, history, suffering, sacrifice, friendship, etc. etc. but it's all too flat and too pat and I just ended up skimming through it to see how i
Interesting from a historical perspective, and the author does a good job of balancing and "hiding" the tremendous amount of back story needed to understand the plot. But the characters didn't quite do it for me, they seemed a little shallow. And despite the huge sweep of life-threatening historical events in the book, there is very little suspense, and there's not much to keep you reading.
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was intriguing in that it relates the psychological disillusionment that Russians slowly developed toward Stalin and his regime. The tense political rivalries and purges are clearly portrayed. The novel closes with the brutal Siege of Leningrad and the citizens intent to survive. Very well done.
Sarah Wagner
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
A tale of intertwining stories set in Leningrad of the 1930s and 1940s. While the siege of Leningrad is significant in the later part of the novel, much of the story concerns the Stalinist purges of the 1930s and their repercussions on the lives of the characters. Very good reading, recommended for anyone interested in Soviet Russia.
Kate Mitchell
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully imagined and described. Very well researched. The first I read of Slovo and will look out for more. Absolutely recommend it. I read Helen Dunmore's The Siege years ago and that remains one of my favourite books. This explores a different perspective of the same events and is as good.
Marianna Still
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written true "Russian classic" - it's cold... life's a b*tch... everyone dies... get over it... Loved it! Time to re-read the Russian classics from high school that I couldn't be bothered with back then. :)
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
A wonderful powerful saga about Russia through the Revolution and into the hardships of WWII as seen through the eyes of a varied cast of characters. I enjoyed this book very much and it was a good insight into the politics of the times.
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fully lived up to the hype. Very powerful.
Pat Stearman
Feb 04, 2011 rated it liked it
No idea why this was on my 'to read' list but I quite enjoyed it anyway!! Leningrad under Stalin, from the 20s to the 40s. Good characters.
Oct 21, 2014 rated it liked it
it's really well written, on an interesting topic, and I just couldn't get into it for some reason. Would try another book by this author, her writing style is lovely.
Jun 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
This book has it all really. I really enjoyed the relationships in the story, how they evolved and came to be. The struggle of war-time paces through this book, giving it grit and honesty.
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Novelist Gillian Slovo was born in 1952 in South Africa, the daughter of Joe Slovo, leader of the South African Communist party, and Ruth First, a journalist who was murdered in 1982.

Gillian Slovo has lived in England since 1964, working as a writer, journalist and film producer. Her first novel, Morbid Symptoms (1984), began a series of crime fiction featuring female detective Kate Baeier. Other
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