The Blurb Appreciation Reviews presents its fifth review!
When the Doves Disappeared written originally in Finnish by Sofi Oksanen. The novel is set in Estonia during WWII and later on when it became part of the Soviet Union.
This was my first novel I read that was set in Estonia. I read it as part of the Women in Translation month in August. Take a look at the other books that I read in that month!
The novel is translated into English by Lola M. Rogers.
As the blurb points out, When the Doves Disappeared takes place through two timelines. This parallel style is quite effective in making the reader think and figure out the pieces of what is happening or has happened to the story’s main characters, Edgar and Roland.
The novel explores a different, lesser known side of history namely Estonia’s struggle in World War 2 especially against the Nazi rule and its eventual capture by Soviet forces. The Soviet side had initially come to Estonia as saviours but later they also turned into captors of all Estonians, denying them freedom.
A Quick Word:
Thus, the one theme that stood out in When the Doves Disappeared was the critique of Fascist power, its blatant use of propaganda and the changing of history to suit the ruling power’s needs. These are shown through Edgar who changes sides according to the ruling power. He used to hobnob with German Nazi higher ups but later switched sides and succeeded in getting into the good books of the Soviets as well.
But as the novel shows in the present in 1963, Edgar has not been able to keep up his good reputation. One day a writing assignment is given to him: to write on Hitler’s cruel regime in Estonia. He hopes that this project will establish his name and that his struggles will be over. But the project is clearly based on maligning the previous rule without a retrospective look at the brutal Soviet rule in Estonia and elsewhere. It means an erasure of history, a justification of the current rule’s torture and imprisonment based on the dubious idea of eliminating all dissidents. Edgar Parts’ work and rewriting of history is partial and he knows it but it serves him two purposes: of giving him an idea of his cousin Roland’s whereabouts and also an opportunity to become part of the Party once again. He feels no moral pinches in doing this job.
While Edgar is busy with his immoral tasks, Roland is fighting on for the freedom of his people and country with a hope that he will be able to solve the mystery of his fiance, Rosalie’s death. It is partly this mad urge to unearth this secret that drives him in his fight for his country.
Both the characters are foils and both traverse each other’s paths in their bid to survive!
I think one should read this novel because a)it is set in Estonia, b) it broadens ones perceptions about history and makes us think about its vulnerability and c) because the novel’s pace is quick and it reads almost like a thriller (though it is not your usual thriller filled with predictable twists and turns) that is bound to trap you in!
This post is part of the Blurb Appreciation Reviews series!
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