When a young, rebellious writer from Leningrad arrives in a remote Russian village to study local customs, one woman stands out: Vera, who has been waiting thirty years for her lover to return from the Second World War. As fascinated as he is appalled by the fruitless fidelity of this still beautiful woman, he sets out to win her affections. But the better he thinks understands her the more she surprises him, and the more he gains uncomfortable insights into himself. Lyrically evoking the haunting beauty of the Archangel region, Makine tells a timeless story of the human heart and its capacity for enduring love, selfish passion and cowardly betrayal.
Andrei Makine was born in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia in 1957, but sought asylum in France in 1987. While initially sleeping rough in Paris he was writing his first novel, A HERO'S DAUGHTER, which was eventually published in 1990 after Makine pretended it had been translated from the Russian, since no publisher believed he could have written it in French. With his third novel, ONCE UPON A RIVER LOVE, he was finally published as a 'French' writer, and with his fourth, LE TESTAMENT FRANCAIS, he became the first author to win both of France's top literary prizes, the Prix Goncourt and Prix Medicis. Since then Andrei Makine has written THE CRIME OF OLGA ARBYELINA, REQUIEM FOR THE EAST, A LIFE'S MUSIC, which won the Grand Prix RTL-Lire, and THE EARTH AND SKY OF JACQUES DORME.