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review 2018-02-13 16:35
Purge by Sofi Oksanen
Purge - Lola Rogers,Sofi Oksanen

Part psychological thriller, part historical fiction, this book was not at all what I expected. You should avoid reading reviews if possible because too many give away too much, but to give a general idea, the novel begins in Estonia in 1992, where an old woman, Aliide Truu, lives alone in the countryside in an atmosphere of fear and decay. She finds a young woman, Zara, lying crumpled in her yard, and the story follows the relationship between these women and the explosive secrets they carry, tracing the history of Estonia back to the 1930s.

It’s an ugly time period: from invasions by the Nazis and Russians, to decades as a repressive Soviet satellite, to lawlessness following the fall of Communism. And I wasn’t expecting the amount of horrific sexual trauma in it. It’s an intense, visceral book that draws the reader into the characters’ world, one where they don’t ever feel safe. The plot is gripping, full of secrets to be unraveled; the characters are morally complex, with believable inner worlds; the settings are vivid and the writing strong.

Actually, my biggest complaint is not about the content, but the deckle edge pages, which publishers continue to inflict upon readers despite the fact that, if we still aren’t using e-readers, one reason is that we like to be able to easily turn pages and flip around, especially in a book like this, where readers will be inclined to re-read earlier sections in light of new information.

I’m glad I read this book. It is an intense, compelling read, and allowed me a window into a place I knew little about, though it isn't a history book and the focus remains tightly on the experiences of the protagonists. It is dark and brutal and so isn’t for everyone, but fans of psychological thrillers will find it well worth their time.

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text 2017-08-20 14:42
OT: A little trip to Tallinn, Estonia

My family and I have been on a little vacation trip to Estonia. We thought it might be fun for the twins to travel on a big ferry and it turns out we were right. Though actually it took them a very long time to realize we were on a ship. It was only when we had left our cabin and were waiting to be allowed to disembark that the children saw the ocean through the big windows in a lounge area.


The trip was ok, if not quite as much fun as my sister and I had hoped.


We took a new type of train that we'd never travelled on before. They use the same tracks as the old state monopoly's trains but the actual trains are a lot nicer. We'll definitely travel by the same trains again. On the way out, the children were on their best behavior. Unfortunately, they weren't on the way back. Maybe they were tired.


We had to learn how to fold up (?) the buggy several times, which was a bit tricky. The first time was on the way to the ferry terminal, the second when we had to get it inside our cabin. But everything went fine and my sister got a little practice in, in case we'll need to do it again on other trips.


The children loved the cabin and at least the playroom on the second ferry on the way back. The first one was too small and my son was a little scared of the slide.


The food, as on our previous trips to the Baltic states were delicious. Unfortunately, the beds (bunks?) in the cabin were really uncomfortable and I woke up several times a night because of back pain. On the way back, my mom let me have the least uncomfortable one, but it still hurt quite a lot.


The positives (other than what I've mentioned above):


On our way to a park where we'd be waiting until we could check into the hotel an Estonian man who didn't speak English offered my mom a seat on the bus.


In the park, an Estonian family who had been given three balloons for their three children gave away the one the baby had got. I think she was too young to appreciate it and my daughter really did. She watched as the two older children played with theirs and laughed out loud with delight. We still have that balloon but neither twin really cares about it now. They tire easily of everything.


On the ferry terminal, on the way back, a Swedish boy gave away two emoji toys to my twins. It was really cute the way this kid of about ten or so, kneeled in front of the buggy and handed over his toys. Very kind of him. His whole family seemed to enjoy seeing the twins so happy about their gifts.


When we got off the ferry, the bus we were going to travel on back to the city center didn't have room for our buggy, so we had to wait for the next one - but then the driver of one of the other buses from the same company offered us a ride out to an area of Stockholm where his passengers were going to get off, one where there are plenty of museums and other interesting sights to see. I only wish we could have stayed and visited a few museums, particuarly the Historic museum and the Medieval Museum.


On the bus back home, after we got off the train, a nice lady helped me get the buggy onto the bus and when were about to get off, a likewise nice kid of about eighteen cheerfully offered to help me get the buggy off the bus. We're not used to being treated that nicely so that was a really pleasant surprise.


The negatives:


A really unpleasant drunk woman complained about my children's messy eating. I suppose she doesn't have any children or grandchildren of her own. I got so angry I just picked up my daughter and carried her back to the cabin.


The internet connection was really bad pretty much everywhere. That's something new, because as I remember it from the last time I was in Estonia, there were plenty of wifi hotspots. We could barely use our phones at all.


The hotel was rather dull and uninspiring - an old Soviet style building with really depressing colors, at least in my opinion. The color scheme was beige and black. And the wall to wall carpet in the corridors smelled.


The food in the restaurant was good, but there was so little of it, it was practically like an hors d'oeuvre, not actual dinner.


While we were waiting in line to be allowed off the ferry, a rude man bumped into my sister with his huge backpack and almost pushed her over. She's usually very steady on her feet so that was really unpleasant.


Some photos:






A real pigeon


More pigeons




Advertising thing


View from the hotel window




Magical Portal

Source: crimsoncorundum.dreamwidth.org/181816.html
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review 2014-01-31 19:20
Horrors of the Past and of the Present: Purge by Sofi Oksanen
Fegefeuer - Sofi Oksanen,Angela Plöger
Purge - Sofi Oksanen

Abridged version of my review posted on Edith’s Miscellany on 1 November 2013

The plot of Purge is mainly set in a remote village of Western Estonia and takes place on two time levels, the early 1990s and the 1940s, both eras of drastic change in the Baltic region. The protagonists are Aliide Truu, an Estonian peasant woman in her late sixties, and Zara, a young forced sex worker originating from Vladivostok who seeks help and refuge on Aliide Truu’s farm. The encounter makes Aliide remember her inglorious and terrifying past when the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939, World War II and its aftermaths turned upside down Aliide’s and all her family’s life, but also Zara has to face the purge in which she got caught and which also has roots in Aliiede’s history.

The style in which Sofi Oksanen tells the story of Purge is very matter-of-fact although her language is rather poetic (even in German translation) and full of symbols. The horrors of Soviet occupation in Estonia (as everywhere else in Stalin’s sphere) and the relentless chase after potential enemies of the Communist cause are depicted truthfully and in accordance with many other accounts of the time. Also in her description of the ways how the two Russian Mafia pimps brought Zara to heel and which mirrors Aliide’s remoter experience of sexual terror the author remains very realistic and yet far from vulgar.

Overall Purge is an excellent read which shows once more that times of war and dictatorial regimes make legalised crime thrive. At any rate, I recommend Purge by Sofi Oksanen and hope that its readers will learn their lesson from it.

For the full review please click here to go to my blog Edith’s Miscellany.

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2012-10-31 00:00
Knitted Lace of Estonia - Nancy Bush Well written and researched. Not as extensive as The Haapsalu Shawl: A Knitted Lace Tradition From Estonia, but more affordable. (The Haapsalu book is $75 and doubles as a coffee table book.) I tried one of the patterns and found the instructions very easy to follow. I'm not sure that I'm quite ready to commit to making an entire shawl, but it's nice to know that I have the directions to make something absolutely lovely.
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review 2012-09-22 00:00
Knitted Lace of Estonia - Nancy Bush It's a beautiful book which gives you a brief history of Estonia Knitted Lace tradition as well as a quick refresher on techniques used in this book.

The patterns are primarily lace shawls that are beautiful. They have an ethereal quality that is very delicate and very feminine.
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