My Russian Love
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
, 1997 - Fiction
- 175 pages
My Russian Love is a sort of literary miracle: a tiny, less-than-200-page tale of two cities - 1970s Paris and Leningrad - that nevertheless achieves epic status by virtue of its passionate emotionalism between two young people: a young French film student, and a Russian woman with a tortured past. My Russian Love opens in the present as Luca, a successful forty-year-old filmmaker is returning to Paris from the newly renamed St. Petersburg, where he intends to shoot a film based on a short story by Pushkin. In the dining car of the train, five tables in front of him and across the aisle, he sees a woman make an unusual gesture, tossing her hair back and putting her palm to the back of her neck in pain. The gesture shocks him, awakening a twenty-year-old memory he had thought buried forever. Before he can react, the girl rises from the table and disappears. The memory is of a girl named Anna, the great love of Luca's youth, and the rest of the novel is a braid woven of two strands: a recounting, in passionately intimate detail, of how Luca and Anna met, fell in love, and were separated; and the story of Luca's increasingly desperate attempt to find the girl he glimpsed on the train. Despite its simplicity of style, My Russian Love is a complex, seamless story spanning a generation, effortlessly switching locales between St. Petersburg, Paris, and New York, where it arrives at its shattering conclusion.