Sunday, 30 March 2008

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann

Black Swan €16.70

LEO is deep in love, travelling with his adored girlfriend, Eleni. They're taking one of those holidays that the young refer to as "travelling", as if they are a kind of work, not a months-long holiday at all.

Then, in some benighted corner of South America, a drunken trucker steers his lorry into their bus. Elena is killed, and Leo starts to fall down into hell.

Meanwhile back in the Great War, Mortiz Daniecki survives the icy horrors of war, and, captured, escapes from the greater horror of a POW camp into a snowy waste.

As Leo endures the empty months after Eleni's death, and Mortiz treks across Siberia towards the half-remembered warmth of a lost kiss, the two stories enrich each other.

This is not a book for nasty old cynics. It's full of love and warmth and sorrow, the chapters broken up by Leo's day book of wise quotes from Einstein, Tennyson, Shakespeare and the lads.

I couldn't take it at all. But it's shot up the bestseller list, loved by nicer people than me, and is still selling like crazy.

And for those who believe in love and all those good things, there's an ending that will vindicate every shred of that belief - until the chilling epilogue.

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