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A Train to Moscow

A Train to Moscow Summary

A Train to Moscow: In a small, provincial town behind the Iron Curtain, Sasha lives in a house full of secrets, one of which is her own dream of becoming an actress. When she leaves for Moscow to audition for drama school, she defies her mother and grandparents and abandons her first love, Andrei.

Before she leaves, Sasha discovers the hidden war journal of her uncle Kolya, an artist still missing in action years after the war has ended. His pages expose the official lies and the forbidden truth of Stalin’s brutality. Kolya’s revelations and his tragic love story guide Sasha through drama school and cement her determination to live a thousand lives onstage.

After graduation, she begins acting in Leningrad, where Andrei, now a Communist Party apparatchik, becomes a censor of her work. As a past secret comes to light, Sasha’s ambitions converge with Andrei’s duties, and Sasha must decide if her dreams are truly worth the necessary sacrifice and if, as her grandmother likes to say, all will indeed be well.

About the Author

Elena Gorokhova was born and raised in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, Russia. After graduating from Leningrad University, she moved to the United States, carrying one suitcase with twenty kilograms of what used to be her life.

Elena is the author of two memoirs: A Mountain of Crumbs and Russian Tattoo. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Daily BeastNew Jersey Monthly, and the Daily Telegraph, as well as on NPR and BBC Radio and in a number of literary magazines. A Train to Moscow is Elena’s first novel. She lives and teaches in New Jersey.

A Train to Moscow Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

She immediately knows something is wrong. The door to Marik’s house is ajar, and there is a black car blocking the street just a few meters away. Not really a car—there aren’t many cars in Ivanovo. It looks more like the wagon that plucks drunks off the sidewalks on holidays and deposits them at the sobering station in the town’s center.

Who is this wagon waiting for? Not for her friend Marik, for sure. Marik is seven, like Sasha, and no driver would waste time plowing through snow all the way to the edge of Ivanovo to stand by while a first grader pulls on his itchy uniform and tosses his books into a schoolbag.

Despite the dusk of early mornings, Sasha has always savored this hour before school, from the moment she plunges out of the clouds of frost and into the warmth of Marik’s house to see his father leaf through Pravda over a glass of tea to the minute she curls her fingers around the piece of sucking candy his mother stuffs into her hand before they leave for class. But all those safe mornings, she can sense, are now in the past. Today, everything is different.

When Sasha slinks in through the open door, she doesn’t see Marik right away. Instead, she sees an unfamiliar man in a black coat and ushanka hat ripping apart the bed, turning the mattress over, tearing off the sheet, and yanking the blanket out of its duvet cover.

She sees another man shaking out every book from the shelves, cutting out the binding, and squinting down its spine, which must be taking a long time because Marik’s mother is a literature teacher and has a lot of books. Sasha sees her standing by the table, next to her husband, clutching the back of a chair with both hands as though she would collapse if she didn’t.

The veins on the backs of her hands are swollen, thick as ropes. No one speaks, and the only sounds in the room are of tearing and slashing, the sounds of destruction. When the contents of the entire bookcase have finally been violated, another man, short and stumpy as a fireplug, snatches the briefcase of Marik’s father off a chair and rips it open. He scans the sheets of paper with mathematical formulas scrawled in a hurried handwriting, as if he could understand any of them. Then he lifts his eyes and stares at the wall.

Citizen Garkovsky, you are under arrest,” he announces.

This is when Sasha sees her friend. Marik is crouching in the corner behind an armchair where he and Sasha usually read together after school. His head is between his knees, his red hair sticking out in all directions like taut little springs, so Sasha cannot see his face.

For what?” asks Marik’s mother in a ragged voice.

You’ll find out,” says the fireplug, avoiding her eyes.

Marik’s mother gives him a hard stare, as though she were facing a student who had misbehaved the entire year and failed the course. “You were in my class a few years ago, weren’t you?” she says. “I remember you. You were a good student. You liked Lermontov.”

The guard turns away and bangs the briefcase with papers on the table, as if it were the papers’ fault that in eighth grade, he liked Lermontov, that he was a good student, that now he is here to arrest his former teacher’s husband.

It’s all a mistake, just a misunderstanding,” Marik’s father says. He tries to speak in his usual manner, but his voice is cracking. It is a voice Sasha hears every morning, a voice of a mathematician from the Academy of Sciences, a voice that has always made her feel secure. She wants him to be right; she wants it all to be a mistake. She is in first grade and hasn’t read Lermontov yet, but how can someone who likes poetry, she wonders, arrest her best friend’s father? How can a good student of literature arrest anyone?

The first policeman, a tall, gangling man, has finished ripping apart the slashed mattress and has turned to the pillows, unleashing a blizzard of feathers that rivals the snow falling behind the window. Having failed to find anything (Sasha can’t imagine what anyone could possibly hide inside a pillow), he strides to the table and pushes Marik’s father away from his wife and toward the door. It is a small push, but there is a pent-up force in it; while still restrained, it makes Sasha think that it may be a precursor to upcoming, less civilized shoves.

This is when her friend Marik storms out of the corner where he has been cowering and flattens himself against his father, his arms like a vise around his father’s waist. For a moment, the taller guard freezes, uncertain of what to do, but then his features reassemble into the earlier official mask, and the moment of hesitation melts away, like snow on the roof of the police wagon outside.

He grabs Marik and tries to wrench him off his father. But Marik doesn’t let him. He dives under the guard’s arms and punches him on his thighs and kicks him on his shins. “Leave my father alone, you scum, you asshole!” he yells at the top of his lungs, words that sound incompatible with Marik and his house, adult curses Sasha hears only from drunks behind the liquor store.

That’s when she, too, plunges between Marik and the guard and tries to grip her friend’s arm to pry him away from the policeman, but the next moment, she and Marik are rolling on the floor, slammed against the wall. She hears Marik’s mother scream and sees her pound the policeman with her fists, even though it is evident that he is oblivious of her, pushing Marik’s father toward the front door, still open, as if the private life of her friend and his parents has already ceased to exist.

Put on your coat, Citizen Garkovsky,” says the former fan of Lermontov in a flat voice, trying to normalize what has just happened. He stuffs the briefcase with mathematical formulas under his arm, his eyes flickering from Sasha and Marik on the floor to the police wagon in the window, still unable to look at his teacher.

Please don’t worry,” says Marik’s father to his wife and son, but also to Sasha. He stands by the door, scrambling to get his arms through the sleeves of the coat Marik’s mother holds out for him. “Go to school and make me proud,” he says to the children, who are clutching on to each other on the floor, braving the bruises that are just beginning to throb. “They will straighten this out soon,” he promises. “I will be back in a few days.

He is trying to stay composed, but his voice is quivering. “All will be well,” he says, even though his words sound hollow, lacking the weight required to ground them in Sasha’s mind, maybe even in his own.

Should Sasha believe him? Despite the two policemen leading him out of the house, Marik’s father still looks like the hero from a film about the first Five-Year Plan they saw at school, imperishable and proud. Whom can she believe if she doesn’t believe him? She holds on to Marik to keep him from lunging after the guards, wishing that everything, as her grandma likes to say, would soon indeed turn out to be well.

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A Train to Moscow

A Train to Moscow PDF

Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN1542033861, 978-1542033862
Posted onMarch 1, 2022
Formatpdf
Page Count315 pages
AuthorElena Gorokhova

A Train to Moscow By Elena Gorokhova PDF Free Download - HUB PDF

A Train to Moscow: In a small, provincial town behind the Iron Curtain, Sasha lives in a house full of secrets, one of which is her own dream of becoming an actress. When she leaves for Moscow to audition for drama school, she defies her mother and grandparents and abandons her first love, Andrei.

URL: https://amzn.to/3IQ63S0

Author: Elena Gorokhova

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