Friday, 10 November 2017

Winds of October by Alan Gibbons

review by Maryom

Alan Gibbons' first foray into adult fiction takes us to 1917 when Russia is held in the grip of revolution. The streets of Petrograd are in turmoil, its people on the march, demanding better working and living conditions, a government that really represents them, and an end to the war with Germany. Striking workers are joined in their protests by students and soldiers, and an unstoppable wind of change is blowing.
The story brings these tumultuous events to life through the intertwined stories of three young people - Raisa, who, following the death of her mother, was forced into prostitution. A violent, yet ultimately lucky, encounter sees her escape this life and she's more than ready to embrace the freedom offered.
Kolya, a young student, firm in his Bolshevik ideals, with a rousing slogan for almost every occasion, but of very little experience in the world. He's talked about revolution a lot, but will it live up to his expectations?
Pavel, an army conscript, who doesn't see why he should sacrifice his life fighting the war against Germany, and finds himself thrust into the front ranks of the Revolution after shooting an officer.
All three have a lot of growing up to do - mentally, emotionally, and sexually - as chaos overwhelms the city, and they become part of a growing mass of angry workers, ready to take on anyone who opposes them. Through their eyes the reader shares the hopes and fears, gains and setbacks, of a year marked by strikes, lockouts, and demonstrations, as the first revolution of February falls flat and tensions continue to simmer through spring and summer.
As you'd expect the main historical figures of the time put in appearances - Kerensky driving past in a limousine, a glimpse of Lenin looking unimpressive, British suffragette Jessie Kenney addressing the crowds - but the emphasis is firmly on three main characters, their friends and lovers: this isn't a political novel but one of real people caught up in world-changing events.
Although billed as an adult novel, with the main characters being all fairly young I think this would appeal to teens - of course with revolution and rebellion comes a certain level of violence and bloodshed, and there's a fair amount of sex in it so definitely OLDER teens (maybe the equivalent of a 15-rated film)

Maryom's review - 4 stars 
Publisher - Circaidy Gregory Press

Genre -adult, older teen, historical fiction, Russian Revolution, 

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