Gargling With Tar

Portobello Books
Free sample

Czechoslovakia, 1968. The Soviet troops have just invaded and, for the young orphan Ilya, life is suddenly turned on its head. At first there is relief that the mean-spirited nuns who ran his orphanage have been driven out by the Red Army, but as the children are left to fend for themselves, order and routine quickly give way to brutality and chaos, and Ilya finds himself drawn into the violence. When the troops return, the orphans are given military training and, with his first-hand knowledge of the local terrain, Ilya becomes guide to a Soviet tank battalion. A position which leads him ever deeper into a macabre world of random cruelty, moral compromise and lasting shame.
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About the author

JCHYM TOPOL is an award-winning writer, famous in his youth as a samizdat poet and songwriter, and now for writing books that have successfully and imaginatively captured the dislocation brought about by the fall of Communism. His novels include Nightwork and The Devil's Workshop, which will also be published by Portobello.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Portobello Books
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Published on
Jul 4, 2013
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781846273667
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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As seamstresses, the young sisters Emília and Luzia dos Santos know how to cut, how to mend, and how to conceal. These are useful skills in the lawless backcountry of Brazil, where ruthless land barons called "colonels" feud with bands of outlaw cangaceiros, trapping innocent residents in the cross fire.

Emília, whose knowledge of the world comes from fashion magazines and romance novels, dreams of falling in love with a gentleman and escaping to a big city.

Luzia also longs to escape their little town, where residents view her with suspicion and pity. Scarred by a childhood accident that left her with a deformed arm, the quick-tempered Luzia finds her escape in sewing and in secret prayers to the saints she believes once saved her life.

But when Luzia is abducted by a group of cangaceiros led by the infamous Hawk, the sisters' quiet lives diverge in ways they never imagined. Emília stumbles into marriage with Degas Coelho, the son of a doctor whose wealth is rivaled only by his political power.

She moves to the sprawling seaside city of Recife, where the glamour of her new life is soon overshadowed by heartache and loneliness. Luzia, forced to trek through scrubland and endure a nomadic existence, proves her determination to survive and begins to see the cangaceiros as comrades, not criminals.

In Recife, Emília must hide any connection to her increasingly notorious sister. As she learns to navigate the treacherous waters of Brazilian high society, Emília sees the country split apart after a bitter presidential election. Political feuds extend to the countryside, where Luzia and the Hawk are forced to make unexpected alliances and endure betrayals that threaten to break the cangaceiros apart. But Luzia will overcome time and distance to entrust her sister with a great secret—one Emília vows to keep. And when Luzia's life is threatened, Emília will risk everything to save her.

An enthralling novel of love and courage, loyalty and adventure, that brings to life a faraway time and place, The Seamstress is impeccably drawn, rich in depth and vision, and heralds the arrival of a supremely talented new writer.

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