I received this book free from Net Galley in return for an honest review
Synopsis (from Amazon)
The socialist state is in crisis, the shops are empty and old Bucharest vanishes daily under the onslaught of Ceaucescu’s demolition gangs. Paranoia is pervasive and secret service men lurk in the shadows. In The Last 100 Days, Patrick McGuinness creates an absorbing sense of time and place as the city struggles to survive this intense moment in history. He evokes a world of extremity and ravaged beauty from the viewpoint of an outsider uncomfortably, and often dangerously, close to the eye of the storm as the regime of 1980s Romania crumbles to a bloody end.
I know pretty much nothing about Romania, and even less about Communism in Romania. I was only 2 when Ceaucescu was overthrown so I certainly cannot claim to remember it, and seeing as it is not a widely covered topic in ‘popular’ history I would really have had to look into it to find out much about it. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have been interested just that it never entered my knowledge far enough to become interested as it were. I can’t decide if this lack of knowledge is good for my reading of McGuinness’ book or not. On one hand it makes it feel more true I suppose, because I don’t have any historical knowledge to compare it to, but then it becomes my historical knowledge which is not so great- because it is, ultimately, fiction. Having said that knowing nothing also helped me to understand the narrator, who seemed to know almost as little as I do about Romania- and I suppose in a way it showed me how little the world was really bothered- at least when it came to the fictional world. Oh I am getting myself in a muddle now!
Anyway it certainly succeeded in getting me interested in that part of history, although I’m having a little more trouble finding out how truthful the book is- I expected just to be able to find an interview or even a wikipedia post on The Last 100 Days, but apparently it is not that easy.
I do enjoy historical fiction and this one was written well. I loved the reality of it- it wasn’t all drama and intregue, but there was enough of it to keep me interested in the book as a story. The atmosphere was built really well, and I loved some of the characters.
In case you were wondering McGuinness did spend a year in Communist Romania as a student (although he wasn’t there for the revolution) so at least something of the atmosphere is probably fairly reliable.