Reviewed by Sarah McCubbin
When Brooke’s company undergoes some restructuring, she finds herself with some time off while things are rearranged with new staff. Rather than take a vacation to a resort destination, she decides to join up with a friend leading a group of women to Russia after the fall of communism. Collectively, they hope to give Russian women some direction as they attempt to start businesses and support their families. As the small group flies across the Atlantic, they bring with them their American ideals, business savvy and varied experiences that will surely benefit those they’ve come to help. It is this story that Talia Carner shares in her novel, Hotel Moscow.
From the time she sets foot on Russian soil, it becomes immediately obvious to Brooke that life here is different. Each step of their activity is watched, guarded and reported. It becomes apparent that men in high places have ulterior motives for assisting the American women. Bribes and extortion are as common as tipping a waitress. And as they begin to encounter individual Russian women, they begin to realize that American capitalism will have a tough audience in a place where distrust, fraud, and violence are common and expected. Young and old, the women have been oppressed in a system that turns a blind eye to abuse, gives most employment to men and causes an impoverished people to live so desperately that hope has faded.
When Brooke decides to become more than a casual observer, she finds herself in fear for her life. Moscow is falling apart. Civil war is at hand as government activity leads to uprisings all over the city. Rather than turn a blind eye to the corruption keeping women in bondage, she undertakes an investigation to root out the corruption hiding in plain sight. Her story will inspire you. The lives of those she encounters will challenge you.
Surprisingly, much of this story was based on real life experiences from the author’s life when she visited post-communist Russia in 1993. Talia Carner traveled there twice herself to teach women entrepreneurial skills. Much of what she discovered comes out in the pages of this novel. While the story was excellent by itself, knowing that it was based on many real life observations made it that much more powerful. By the end, I felt so deeply thankful for many of the blessings of living in the United States. Ordinary life here is full opportunity unlike so many places. Hotel Moscow is an excellent novel that invites you to see the world a little differently and take a step toward helping someone else live a better life.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins Publishers. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.