he internationally acclaimed author of The Dream Life of Sukhanov (Penguin, 2007) now delivers FORTY ROOMS, in which our protagonist must decide if she is really happy in life, now in paperback.
Totally original in its conception and execution, FORTY ROOMS is mysterious, reserved, and ultimately emotionally devastating.
Grushin is dealing with issues of women's identity, with their choices, in a way that no modern novel has explored so deeply.
The beloved son of a late marriage, our protagonist approaches the age of five when the novel is released.
Her parents are Moscow intellectuals and the apartment sounds with the voices of her friends as they discuss poetry and life late into the night.
The kid only understands a little bit about this.
To her, these people are gods and mermaids, people of myths and fairy tales.
We follow this girl when she reaches her teens, leaves home for the United States, discovers sexual happiness and love.
But her hunger for adventure and her desire to be a great poetess take a back seat when she meets a college classmate.
He is sure of his goals, protects her and, as an added incentive, is a great cook, who drifts towards love and marriage.
What follows are decades of births and deaths, celebrations and material accumulations - until one day, her children grew up and left, her husband absent, she finds herself alone except for the ghosts of her youth.
Convincing and complex, FORTY ROOMS is also deeply moving, its end devastating, but true.
We know that Mrs. Caldwell (because that is the only name we know her by) is dead.
Was it a life well lived?
A whole life?
Is there really such a life?
After all, life is full of rewards and options.
Who says the road was not well taken?
It is this ambiguity that is at the heart of this provocative novel.