Riikka Pelo: Jokapäiväinen elämämme [Our everyday life]
[Our everyday life]
Helsinki: Teos, 2013. 526 p.
At the centre of Riikka Pelo’s second novel are the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva (1892–1941) and her daughter Ariadna Efron (1912–1975). This broad historical novel depicts the mental landscape of Russia during the period between the two great wars, from the 1920s to the 1940s. The mother is a religious believer and idealist, her daughter a more pragmatic empiricist. The family’s fate is controlled by the Soviet state apparatus, which sends it into exile in Paris where Tsvetaeva’s husband Sergei Efron takes a job as a secret police informer in an organisation devoted to the repatriation of Soviet emigrés. In the 1930s they return to Moscow, where life under the watchful eye of Stalin is filled with difficulty and paranoia. Pelo portrays the awkward relationship between mother and daughter with particular vividness. The indisputable star of the family is the mother – her ambition extends to her daughter, who to her disappointment is more interested in the visual arts than in poetry. The historical characters of Pelo’s impressive novel live their contradictory lives in decades of social upheaval.
Translated by David McDuff
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