Sunday, February 22, 2015

White Gardenia - Belinda Alexandra

White Gardenia
Belinda Alexandra
Gallery Books, Feb 17 2015, $16.00
ISBN: 9781476790312

Having fled their homeland after the Tsar abdicated, many White Russians settle on the border in Harbin, China.  There Victor Grigorovich Kozlov and Alina Pavlovna meet, marry and have a child Anya.  When Anya turns thirteen her father dies in an accident.  Not long after his death, Russian Communists take control of Harbin from the Japanese occupied Chinese; severely mistreating their former countrymen.  Incarcerated Alina returns home to Mother Russia to most likely die in a labor camp and abusive Tang possesses Anya.  Family friends smuggle her out of Harbin.

In Shanghai Anya stays with Moscow-Shanghai nightclub owner and opium addict Sergei and his avaricious wife Amelia. When their ward turns fifteen, she begins to work at her guardian’s nightclub where she meets manager Dimitri.  A year later, Anya and Dimitri marry.  Her husband deserts her when the Communists seize Shanghai forcing all foreign devils out of the country.  Anya manages to get to The Philippines where she makes new friends amongst the Russian exiles in a Tubabao refugee camp before relocating in Australia.

This reprint of a mid-twentieth century epic grips the fans with a profound look at what happened to White Russian expatriates decades after they fled their homeland.  The storyline starts vivid yet fast-paced; slows down in the middle though retaining the vibrancy; and accelerates with an exhilarating climax.  Real events and a strong support cast anchor Anya’s saga; as she struggles to survive in a seemingly ever changing but ever cruel world while craving one impossible dream: reuniting with her mother.

Harriet Klausner

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