Monday 13 December 2021

Book Review: Prague Spring by Simon Mawer

Prague Spring Prague Spring by Simon Mawer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having just read and studied my way through the confusing, infuriating and interesting Kazuo Ishiguro book The Unconsoled, I needed a quicker, more straightforward read, something with a plot and a compelling storyline. My face-to-face book group chice for this month provided the answer - Simon Mawer's Prague Spring.

Set in 1968, the year of change when for a brief moment Czechoslovakia need had its legendery Spring. Mawer weaves two threads neatly together, one of British students James and Ellie hitching across Europe, their route chosen with the toos of a coin and the other of diplomat Sam based in Prague and his Czechoslovakian girl friend Lenka. Throughout every relationship is hanging by a thread, the big question is which way will it go, like James and Ellie's coin toss - their 'are they friends/are they lovers' relationship, will Sam forget absent girlfriend Steffie now back in UK and fall for Lenka, will the Russians invade or not, will Czechoslovakia get its dream of Communism with a human face?

Always difficult to cast a plot when answers to some of the major questions are known by readers in advance, but Mawer does this quite well , he does his research and doesn't overpower the reader with the historical background or the occasional foregrounding of characters future histories. His prose sweeps you along, perhaps with the optimism of those tasting freedom for the first time, but lags a bit in the middle third before gathering itself back into a pacey finale. An entertaining , easy read.

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