Life & Style Weekend - - RELAX - An­drea Gold­smith SCRIBE, $33

This is a multi-lay­ered story of a young Rus­sian im­mi­grant who in­tro­duces us to a host of Aus­tralian characters on her jour­ney from the Soviet Union to Mel­bourne in the 1980s. True to ex­pec­ta­tions, the book of­fers a so­cial and cul­tural travel guide through the era and its enor­mous changes. How­ever, it is the Mel­bourne set­ting that will res­onate with most read­ers. Reg­u­lar ref­er­ences to city land­marks in­clud­ing Carl­ton, the Block Ar­cade and Queen Vic­to­ria Mar­ket ground us in the lo­cal land­scape, but this novel by An­drea Gold­smith also puts us in the cen­tre of the cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment of the time. The sex­ual rev­o­lu­tion in Aus­tralia con­trasts with the po­lit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion in Rus­sia. The fear of AIDS in­hibits free and easy risk-tak­ing in rapidly mod­ernising Mel­bourne, while fear of per­se­cu­tion dom­i­nates Rus­sian lives. Be­ing fa­mil­iar with the era and the is­sues made this novel more of a re­minder than a dis­cov­ery. How­ever, it will be a fas­ci­nat­ing eye-opener for many read­ers.

KA­RINA BAR­RY­MORE VER­DICT: His­tory les­son

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