Day of the Angel
229 pages

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229 pages

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Follows the fates and fortunes of three generations of the Ushakov family, members of the Russian émigré community living in Paris post-Revolution.

‘Day of the Angel’ follows the fates and fortunes of three generations of the Ushakov family, members of the Russian émigré community living in Paris following the Revolution. Against the historical background of totalitarian terror, famine and war, depicted in harrowing detail as an epic struggle between the powers of good and evil, the family becomes swept up in a tide of events largely beyond their control.

Interspersed with extracts from relatives’ diaries and letters, together with contemporary documentary accounts of the great famine, Dmitry Ushakov must find inner peace and a way to love amidst the chaos of his life.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 septembre 2013
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781783080144
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0032€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Day of the Angel
THAMES RIVER PRESS An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company Limited (WPC) Another imprint of WPC is Anthem Press ( ) First published in the United Kingdom in 2013 by THAMES RIVER PRESS 75–76 Blackfriars Road London SE1 8HA
Original title: День Ангела (Denya Angela) Copyright © Irina Muravyova 2009 Originally published by Eksmo, Moscow
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher.
The moral rights of the author have been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All the characters and events described in this novel are imaginary and any similarity with real people or events is purely coincidental.
A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 978-1-78308-012-0
This title is also available as an eBook.
Published with the support of the Institute for Literary Translation, Russia.
Irina Muravyova
Translated by John Dewey
To O. A.
O n the night of 23rd January the whole house was woken by a thunderstorm. A torrential downpour engulfed the sleepy pavements; and the sky, knowing why this had been visited on people, trees, beasts of the forest and blue-grey fish of lakes, opened up ever wider, disgorging its entrails, blinding all with momentary dead whiteness, and quaking. Ripped apart by spasms of lightning, it became in momentary flashes bright as day.
It was the same night that Mitya’s grandfather died. The day before he’d felt unexpectedly better, exchanging much lively banter with Dr Pierrat, who as always had made a brief call after a whole day spent at the crowded surgery where he received patients, and where propped against a table lamp stood a photograph of his children, a boy and a girl, in front of a large brightly lit haystack each stalk of which glistened in the sun. The children were twins, and with their mother had been killed in a car crash eight years before. Visible in the photograph was just one very narrow shadow cast by their two bodies on the wall of a barn. It was as if a second was not to be, given that the children had done everything, from being born to their eventual death, together.
Feeling much better after Dr Pierrat had gone, grandfather asked for something to eat and managed two spoons of soup. Then he fell asleep. For a long time Mitya’s grandmother knelt by the bed, clasping his hand in both of hers and stroking her face with these three hands. Then she got up and went to lie down on the narrow couch in the next room. It was during the night that grandfather died. Woken by the storm, dishevelled, his face deathly white, he levered himself up on his pillows and began calling his wife. She leapt from her couch and came running to him. He was choking: from inside his chest, which was bathed in small drops of sweat, came a gurgling, rasping sound, as if there too a storm were raging. Her hands shaking, she poured water into a glass and tried to get him to drink; but in an unexpectedly clear voice he said:
“…the fashion of this world passeth away…”
His eyes froze in an expression of inspired terror. Then all the lights in the street went out; and in the darkness, in torrential rain and crashing thunder, Mitya’s grandfather died.
The funeral service took place in the rue Daru. In the candlelight his dead face now looked ruddy, now suddenly glowed faintly like ivory, his large grey moustache, which had grown unkempt during his illness, suffused with light. Mitya’s grandmother was beautiful even as she stood bent over the coffin, fixedly scrutinizing her dead husband with astonished anguish as if waiting for him to say something to her. With the same astonished anguish she kissed him three times, carefully straightened the hair on his brow and whispered something, but so softly as to be scarcely audible. At the wake afterwards she called on everyone to eat and drink, and to celebrate the departed, but soon fell silent, went over to the window and stood there with her back turned, her shoulders hunched up under the long black shawl she had on, as if summoning up the strength to laugh or cry; but she didn’t do either, just stood there with hunched black shoulders, gazing out at the street. Perhaps she had seen how a week later, grown thin and sombre, distracted, she would cross this same road with a lap dog called Mushka and be hit by a car, and Mushka would lead the police back home and start whimpering and yelping outside the door.
At her funeral the same whispered version of events went from mouth to mouth. Everyone said she’d been unable to carry on living after the deaths of her husband and son, and that with nothing left to live for had crossed the road as if blind: that quiet inoffensive road in which nobody had ever been run over by a car. And yet she was run over, had a brain haemorrhage and died on the spot. Thank goodness Mushka led the police to her apartment, as there’d been no documents in her handbag to identify her. Everyone looked at Mitya and his mother with apprehension, as if concerned that they might soon have to attend their funerals too; for over the past three years this family, to all appearances so decent and kindly, had lost three of its members in a row. They all remembered the terrible cry uttered by Mitya’s grandfather as the coffin with his only son, Mitya’s father, had begun to be lowered slowly into the grave:
“Li-i-iza! What are we doing!”
But she – never once taking her eyes off the tasteful bright casket, which hung motionless on its straps for an instant before finally lurching down onto the reddish-purple soil – she just tossed her head angrily, as if irritated by her husband’s cry.
For a long time Mitya’s mother could not bring herself to touch his grandmother’s clothes, but in due course quickly sorted all her hats and dresses into several boxes. It was then, in among the hats, that she came across the celebrated “papers”: notebooks in which for some reason best known to herself Mitya’s grandmother had kept a running account of her life. Discovered with these “papers” were also letters from her younger sister Nastya, Anastasia Beckett, who had not made it to the funeral.
Diary of Yelizaveta
Aleksandrovna Ushakova
Paris, 1955
It’s nearly a month now since we found out that le bébé est en route . This had the immediate effect of completely transforming my and Georgiy’s life. We have become calmer, more considerate towards each other. It’s even difficult to explain this change. Lyonya, as far as one can judge, is a bit embarrassed by the prospect of becoming a father, and he and Vera kept the news from us for as long as they could. There’s something of the child in my son, and Vera plays along with it, pretending to be more naïve and helpless than she really is. I went to see Mama and Papa in Toulouse. Thank goodness they’ve finally moved, as Mama was almost going out of her mind in our village. She’s developed a pronounced stoop, but still looks at you with those same eyes: bright blue, a touch dazzling even.
I said to her, “Just imagine: you’re almost a great-grandmother!”
She replied, “Great-grandmother, so be it. But what about you, poor thing? How can you be a grandmother already?”
My life has gone by so quickly! Vera’s stomach seems to grow bigger by the hour, and her whole face is covered with dark yellow blotches. Sometimes I have the feeling that she doesn’t like me. Could it be she’s aware of this? Once she asked me how it was that Georgiy is a whole generation older than me. I had to tell her that he also lived in Tarbes and to begin with helped my father break in horses. He came there in 1925 when I was twenty-three and he was forty-five. Vera couldn’t understand that. Weren’t there any younger men? I tried to explain to her that there were plenty of young men, but mostly French, and my parents wanted me to marry a Russian, one of our own kind, and I went along with that. She just didn’t believe me. I have no bad feelings towards Vera, God forbid! As long as my son is happy I’ve nothing against her. She’s very attractive. Her body could be that of a negress, with the slim waist and rounded derrière they so often have. Her eyes are almost violet in colour. My son probably feels a strong physical attraction towards her. I certainly sense that. Only I don’t know if she feels the same way about him, whether she’s happy with him.
Tomorrow I’m going away with N. for three days on the pretext of having to visit Didi. God! And here’s me about to be a grand-mami !
Anastasia Beckett – Yelizaveta
Aleksandrovna Ushakova
Moscow, 1933
Liza, here we are at last in Moscow, worn out from our exertions. We arrived towards evening on Saturday. They’d sent a Cadillac to pick us up at the station with a driver who surprised me by not uttering a single word during the whole journey. For the first two months we’re staying at the Hotel New Moscow, with a view of the Kremlin and the Moscow River. The hotel décor is sumptuous: mirrors everywhere, lots of red velvet, bright lights. However, we couldn’t fill the bathtub because there was no plug. Patrick got the man on duty to come and have a look. He was clearly alarmed at the thought of having upset the foreigners. He said th

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