on January 8, 2016
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A powerful and hard-hitting novel' – Deborah Swift
Love can’t be defined by war…Watching the Red Army withdraw from Ukraine in the face of Hitler’s relentless advance, Natasha Smirnova realises her life is about to change forever.
As Kiev is cast under the dark cloud of occupation, Natasha falls in love with Mark, a Hungarian soldier, enlisted against all his principles on the side of the Nazis.
But as Natasha fights to protect the friends and family she holds dear she must face up to the dark horrors of war and the pain of betrayal. Will the love she and Mark share be strong enough to overcome the forces which threaten to tear them apart?
The Story of Us is a powerful tale of love, loss, and the power of hope set in Kiev during the Second World War, perfect for fans of Kate Furnivall, Pam Jenoff and V. S. Alexander.
What readers are saying about The Story of Us:‘A really brilliant read’
‘Excellent research and a fascinating story’
‘Great story, definitely worth reading’
‘I was really drawn into the story and finished it in a few sittings, and would recommend it heartily’
‘Brilliant story, from the start to finish just couldn't put it down. Such a good author’
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
September 19, 1941, was the day when the Nazis invaded Kiev and Natasha Smirnova’s world as she knew it came to an abrupt end. The following day was even worse as a tragic event had devastating consequences for the Smirnovs, but it was also the day nineteen-year-old Natasha found love.
The Second World War is an era I know very well, and I’m also quite familiar with the history of the Soviet Union, so it was with trepidation and a tad of apprehension that I picked up THE STORY OF US. From the very first pages, the atmosphere was so well-established, that I was all in. Lana Kortchik possesses a marvellous descriptive voice, eloquent yet crisp, and I was immediately transported to WWII Kiev and all the uncertainty and terror that it implies. THE STORY OF US is heavy on history, which pleased me immensely, and it’s also essential to the plot, as the romance would not have happened otherwise. Natasha meets Mark under dreadful circumstances, and I loved that Mark – although fighting for the Nazis – is Hungarian and had been drafted by the occupying Germans, as were most of his compatriots.
THE STORY OF US is one of those books where nothing quite happens the way you expect it. I was shocked on several occasions, and the first time Natasha and Mark meet has disastrous consequences that snowball into a veritable nightmare. The cast is rather large, and not at all confusing because of the author’s talent at creating vibrant and multifaceted characters, and I loved the Smirnovs’ family dynamics. Not everyone you encounter will see the end of the book, and in one case it broke my heart. THE STORY OF US is painfully realistic, scrupulously historically accurate, meticulously researched, and the author writes with confidence, flair and aplomb. I also very much appreciated that Ms. Kortchik didn’t fall prey to revisionism with regards to the era and the Soviet Regime, and I was also pleased with the proper use of patronymics. It had also been a very long time since I had been so emotionally invested in the fate of fictional characters.
THE STORY OF US is a fantastic WWII story, particularly since its setting is one we seldom hear about: Ukraine. It’s a real nailbiter, and so engrossing that I had to drag myself away once and I couldn’t wait to continue reading. I felt that Mark and Natasha declared themselves in love rather too quickly, but then again, in a situation such as this, can we predict how we will act? I thought it was a bit bizarre though that Mark never had a last name. Unfortunately, in the last third of the book, the story lost some steam because of the romance, and not due to the usual reasons. There were some inconsistencies – but never from the historical side – and one detail nagged at me: how could one in their twenties forget the face of the love of their life within one year? Also, a very questionable decision on the part of one character felt like a hastily manufactured plot device; I thought it made one person seem rather callous, and made me respect the victimised character even more. The author also put a lot of efforts into making me dislike another character, and in my case, it failed, because the person was entirely justified in feeling wronged. It was a huge issue, a pivotal one for most of the developments in the storyline, but it was miraculously resolved outside the narrative in the epilogue, and it didn’t feel quite right. However, if I was somewhat disappointed in how the romance progressed in some areas, THE STORY OF US is an extraordinary historical fiction novel, and I hope Lana Kortchik continues in that vein, because her grasp of the era is such that I was convinced that real people were at the source of the story; it feels that genuine. For her debut novel, to say that Ms. Kortchik shows promise would be a major understatement.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.