The People’s Act Of Love – James Meek


Chosen by Suzy

A renegade Czech army unit is stranded in a community of religious fanatics in a small, remote town in Siberia. 

“The People’s Act of Love is set in 1919 in Yasyk, Siberia, a small town on the Yenisey river about as far north as life can be sustained. It is built around three facts; thousands of Czech soldiers were left marooned in northern Russia by the collapse of the Russian Revolution; secretive, utopian communities of voluntary eunuchs flourished there throughout the 19th century; and there was a practice of taking a naive companion along on Siberian journeys with the intention of eating him.

“Meek has combined these facts with the fictional coexistence of a woman raising her son alone, a crazed Czech captain and his soldiers, and a group of religious eunuchs. Then a mysterious, charismatic stranger appears in their snowy village with a frightening story to tell, and their fragile societal balance is tipped off kilter. This is a heavily plotted book with many twists, turns and surprises.”

And you thought: they’re used to it. But that was how those who suffered less always thought about those who suffered more, that they were used to it, that they no longer felt it as you did. Nobody ever got used to it. All they learned to do was to stop letting it show.

“I certainly didn’t expect what I found when I first opened the book. A unique setting and idea, bringing together an army unit and religious fanatics in the harshest of climates, so that everything is a daily battle. This is a blindingly forthright story, one which poses many questions about the fragility of the human condition and makes you consider ‘what if’ over and over. The bleak frosty setting is well incorporated into the storylines and is almost a character in itself. I didn’t want to put this down.” – Rachel


Published 2005
391 pages

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