The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin

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The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Nikki Edwards
Reviewed by Nikki Edwards
Summary: A beautifully written and moving story about the hopes and frustrations of a family living in Soviet Russia.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 978-0670918485

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The Concert Ticket follows the lives of a family in Soviet Russia who have grown desperately distant from one another. Sergei, the father, is a frustrated musician who longs to play the pre-revolutionary masterpieces of composers like Igor Selinsky but is forced to play the kind of patriotic ditties he despises. His schoolteacher wife, Anna, longs for his love, but is never quite able to get his attention with her shy gestures. Their shiftless son, Alexander, has quietly given up going to school and spends his days hanging around the park, consorting with undesirables. Also living in their house is Anna's silent, elderly mother.

When we meet this family, they are much like ships passing in the night, but then a kiosk appears in town and everything changes. The kiosk seems permanently closed but a huge queue begins to grow in front of it and people are whispering all sorts of things about what it might sell. Anna is the first one to be attracted to the line, thinking she might get a cake, but it turns out that the kiosk will actually sell tickets for a concert. Rumour has it that the currently banned classical genius Igor Selinsky will be performing.

Selinsky is Sergei's hero and he is soon drawn to the line himself. His son Alexander is also drawn to the kiosk by the promise of something foreign and exciting. Perhaps most surprisingly, Anna's mother breaks years of silence to announce that she would dearly like to go to the concert too. As only one ticket is available per person and the kiosk may open at any time, the family begin to take turns waiting in the line, meeting various strangers and concocting their own plans for what they might do with the ticket when they get it.

The Concert Ticket certainly isn't a book for those who want high-octane action or hard-hitting drama. The pace here is leisurely and the plot is simple, but the author has a wonderful way with words and a beautiful descriptive style- she writes in the way you would imagine T.S Eliot would write if he were a novelist. It's literally like poetry. The moving moments in this story – of which there are many - creep up on you quietly and grab you just when you least expect it.

There are no big fireworks with Grushin, and yet the book still manages to be powerful in its own way. The characters are authentic and the book has so many layers you could read it again and again and still find something new. If you want to read a story which explores, in beautiful prose, the intricacies of the human spirit, I would definitely buy this book. I certainly enjoyed it, and one day I may well read it again.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If you enjoyed this book you might also like Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or - at the other end of the scale - The Upright Piano Player by David Abbott.

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Buy The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin at


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