Sophie van Llewyn’s Bottled Goods is written in a serious of flash fiction. This is the perfect plae to start if you are unfamiliar with this style of prose. But basically, it is a series of short sharp chapters that loosely weave a common theme together. They form a novella, a short read. It is the 1970s in Communist Romania, a young woman Alina is in a loveless marriage with her husband Liviu. And when her broth-in-law defects, they both find themselves under the intense scrutiny by the Secret Service.
Llewyn’s style is fluid and reminiscent of Anne Enright’s prose, I though. The book relies on magic realism to present Alina’s escape from the drudgery of her humdrum life. And as she plans it, she must make peace with her mother. She relies on her Aunt’s help, but it isn’t the kind you might be expecting. This book, although a work of fiction, creates a believable world.
And as it build into a climax, it is impossible to put it down. By then, I am too invested in Alina’s fate, I am rooting for her, and I am rooting for her identity. As a young woman’s tale of love, loss, betrayal and magic takes shape, a great candidate for this year’s Man Booker longlist is born.
Quote: Alina stares into her nearly empty cup. The coffee grounds have arranged themselves in a pattern like angel wings, but dark. If she had been as skilled in reading the signs as her aunt, perhaps she would have been able to divine her fall.