Elo has written a riveting and complex novel about a young doctor living and working in Washington D.C. traveling to Russia and encountering the very worse of conditions that country throws at it’s citizens.
Natalie March is a successful surgeon practicing in the United States. She enjoys the benefits of her work including a better than average life style. the reputation that her skill brings and a social life that is good, although can be better. Natalie is the daughter of Vera March, a woman that has emigrated from Russia but leaving with the guilt that she left her family on the way to the Gulag for crimes unmentioned.
Vera is in the throes of illness that Natalie cannot cure and she would do anything to help her mother survive her sickness. Natalie is suddenly visited by a young dancer working with a Russian Ballet company and performing in New York. The girl provides Natalie with details of the family still in Russia that only someone knowing them would be aware of. This includes Vera’s mother and her sister still living in a section of Siberia. The girl’s motives for visiting Natalie soon become clear. The family need help in defecting from Russia since they are in grave danger from the Putin regime. Natalie speaks to her mother and agrees to travel to New York where Saldana, who is the girl that is her cousin is performing.
Going to New York Natalie finds that Saldana has been murdered in what looks like a bad breaking and entering crime. Galvanized into action Natalie decides to travel to Russia and break the news to her family. Her findings and the events surrounding the meetings form a major part of the novel. Elo doing a major job of researching and investigating, paints a picture of a vast land, basically undeveloped and living under the totalitarian hand of absolute dictatorship. The weather in the areas visited is horrendous with normal almost year round temperatures below zero Fahrenheit.
In almost understated tones, Elo brings to life Natalie’s adventures in an alien land while looking for her grandmother and other relatives. A fascinating novel and one which cannot be picked up to read without finishing it.
3/19 Paul Lane
FINDING KATARINA M. by Elisabeth Elo. Polis Books (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1947993433. 352p.