“She found it hard to believe that there would be any bold moves, because too many people had dirty flour in their bags, and people with filthy fingers are hardly enthusiastic about digging up the past.”
Sofi Oksanen, Purge.
Sofi Oksanen is an author from Finland. She was brought up with a Finnish father and a mother from Estonia. Purge (Puhdistas in Finish) was her first novel to be published in English, although she had won numerous prestigious literary awards in Finland.
Set in a small country called Estonia, which has many cultural links to Finland. Their capitals, Helsinki and Tallinn are just a stones throw away from each other across the Baltic sea – on a map it looks like they are reaching out to each other or Estonia is reaching out for the protection of its elder brother.
Estonia has also been a country steeped in Soviet history, bordered and invaded twice by Russia. The story juggles between two timelines in Estonian history; one in the 1950’s during the Soviet occupation and the other in early 1990’s when Estonia is free.
Purge represents the rich cultural history Estonia has with its neighbouring countries and has an oppressive feel of communism after world war II, of flies and sexual abuse. It tells the story of two brilliant and haunting characters, Zara and Aliide.
The two main protagonist’s stories weave a web of their troubled pasts in the country of abuse by men who hate women and how their lives are intertwined. If they want to survive they must learn to trust each other – something that each of the women have learnt not to do in life! As the story progresses you are willing for them to open up and trust each other to help Zara survive and escape or be purged from their sins!
This is a wonderful, dark story of redemption. I loved researching the places mentioned in the book; Estonia and Vladivostok in Russia. The protagonists are beautiful and tender in their strength and flaws. But this book is also about the rich writing, the depth of detail of the mundane is almost heart stopping as the tension builds and the story develops!