>Black Sea Twilight by Domnica Radulescu

>I was given a copy of this book to review by Transworld.  And I really enjoyed it!  I was a little bit surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Reading the back I thought it sounded good but that it wasn’t the sort of book which would jump out at me as a “I must read this book!” if I was browsing in a bookshop.  I will definitely be looking for Domnica Radulescu’s other book with a view to reading it.

This is what Amazon has to say about it (in fact looking at it closely, it’s pretty much what the blurb on the back says):

It’s 1980s Romania: As the sun sets on the magical shore of the Black Sea and casts its last rays across the water, all Nora Teodoru can think about is pursuing her dream of becoming an accomplished artist – and of her love for Gigi, her childhood boyfriend from the Turkish part of town. But storm clouds are gathering as life under Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu becomes increasingly unbearable. His secret police are circling, never far from the young couple’s doors. Nora and Gigi make plans to escape to Turkey, but nothing can prepare them for the events that follow. Five years later, the Romanian revolution is over, and Nora is on her own in Paris trying to make it as an artist. But then Gigi unexpectedly reappears in her life – and they are both faced with shocking revelations about each other. Nora realizes her life can never be the same…

This book has a lovely feel to it.  It reminded me in it’s style of those I’ve read by Mary Doria Russell, Farahad Zama and Chimanda Ngozi Adichie and those are some of my favourite writers so it definitely ranks up there.  It’s written in the first person which I sometimes find grates on me but this worked really well and drew me in.
This book had the added bonus of being disability positive.  Nora, the main character has one hand (and one breast) smaller than the other.  She thinks it’s because her twin brother squashed her in womb.  It’s something she isn’t overly comfortable with at the beginning of the book.  However she’s an artist and she comes to learn that she can use her different hands to do different things in her drawing and learns to see it as a very positive thing.  At one point she is told she’s lucky to have hands like that.  It was very well handled and at no point was Nora labelled as disabled, it was just part of who she is.  I found that to be a very nice surprise in the book, particularly as I have recently been discussing books with disabled characters – something I’ll be writing a longer post about soon I hope (I am still looking for suggestions if you have them)
I also thought that it wasn’t predictable.  Which is always good in a book.  Reading the back I had preconceived ideas that “this will happen quite early in the story and then not long after that this will happen…” based on what it said happened.  But the book actually followed it’s own path and things happened when they happened not when I expected.  I do like books like that.
I would definitely recommend this book

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