I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.
Published by William Morrow on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
Brooke Fielding, a thirty-eight year old New York investment manager and daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, finds her life suddenly upended in late September 1993 when her job is unexpectedly put in jeopardy. Brooke accepts an invitation to join a friend on a mission to Moscow to teach entrepreneurial skills to Russian business women, which will also give her a chance to gain expertise in the new, vast emerging Russian market. Though excited by the opportunity to save her job and be one of the first Americans to visit Russia after the fall of communism, she also wonders what awaits her in the country that persecuted her mother just a generation ago.
Inspired by the women she meets, Brooke becomes committed to helping them investigate the crime that threatens their businesses. But as the uprising of the Russian parliament against President Boris Yeltsin turns Moscow into a volatile war zone, Brooke will find that her involvement comes at a high cost. For in a city where "capitalism" is still a dirty word, where neighbors spy on neighbors and the new economy is in the hands of a few dangerous men, nothing Brooke does goes unnoticed--and a mistake in her past may now compromise her future.
Based loosely on the author’s own experiences, Hotel Moscow paints a very interesting, but somewhat terrifying, portrait of a country undergoing violent and profound change. Right away, Brooke learns that being an American will not protect her in a country that seems to be without laws or governance. The dangerous experiences continue as she faces with danger almost everywhere she goes. The story also follows a few of the women that are benefiting from the program, and their stories brought depth to the book that I enjoyed. I became quite invested in these characters. One aspect of Brooke’s back story that I found very interesting was that her parents were both holocaust survivors. It seemed that much of Brooke’s drive to help people, and the conflicted feelings she had about being in Russia, came back to her parents. The Russian people, who were demonized by her parents her whole life, were now the very citizens she wanted to help. There was a certain catharsis to Brooke’s trip to Russia, and I almost wish this part of the story had been explored a little more because I found it to be so interesting.
Although it read a bit like a textbook written in a narrative style, I found the story to be extremely interesting. I think the rest of the Western world tended to have the view that they went to bed one night in a world where the USSR existed and then woke up to a bright and shiny Russia. Like I Dream of Genie, the system of communism was magically swept away. In reality, it was a time of very painful change and Brooke’s experiences told a story that was as absorbing as it was horrifying. In particular, the plight of the women was very hard to read, at times. Near starvation and forced to endure unspeakable conditions, including sexual assault, I really felt invested their desperation to change and Brooke’s determination to help in some way. While there were side plots that didn’t seem to quite fit into the story, including an odd sort of pseudo-romance, I though Hotel Moscow was an engaging and interesting look at a period of history that may not have been fully reported, but certainly had a huge impact on the world as we know it today.