A couple’s burgeoning romance is tested by the collapse of their government in Soukup’s historical novel.
In June 1970, Michal Sedmy leaves Prague for a bus tour of Yugoslavia. The bus tour is a ruse, part of a carefully constructed plan to defect to Canada where he will join his wife, Danna, and adopted daughter, Lenka. The 1968 Soviet invasion hobbled Michal’s and Danna’s lives and careers, and defecting to Canada is an opportunity for freedom. It will also provide a chance for them to live openly as a married couple. When they met, both were in disintegrating marriages. For years, Michal struggled to make his marriage to Zora work for the sake of their three children, and Danna’s relationship with her husband, Ivan, grew distant after the birth of Lenka. Michal and Danna met while working for the Research Institute of Mining. A collegial relationship turned romantic, and their marriages crumbled as Czechoslovakia fell apart. A fellowship in Canada provides an opportunity for Michal to lay the groundwork for a new life in Canada for himself, Danna, and Lenka, but it comes with risk of arrest in his home country. Told in four parts, each corresponding to a symphonic movement, Soukup weaves an intricate tale with a strong narrative framework. Michal’s relationship with Danna unfolds via flashbacks before the novel transitions to his dangerous journey to Canada. Along the way, Soukup introduces a well-developed cast of supporting characters. In addition, abundant detail on life in Czechoslovakia before and after the Soviet invasion provides a wealth of context for Michal and Danna’s decisions. The domestic drama is as intense as the political situation in Prague.
A compelling romance buttressed by engaging, likable protagonists and vivid historical detail.