The good people at Blackbird Books in the UK offered me a digital copy of THE ROAD TO DONETSK to review. This was a really interesting book and unlike a lot of what I typically read.
Here’s the overview of it:
LONDON DEC 10 2014: Love story set in a community of Donetsk mining wives just after the fall of communism. In a world where millions of dollars can either wash away in a moment’s corruption, or turn around the lives of the neediest, Vanessa Parker is forced to pit her own naive desire to make a difference against the chaos of a country in transition.
“A touching love story that illuminates the aid business. Compelling and enjoyable.” CLARE SHORT (former Secretary of State for International Development)
It is 1994 and an idealistic Vanessa enters the world of international aid, bringing with her youth, beauty and passion to do good in the ‘Wild East’ of Ukraine after the sudden collapse of communism. The country and its people completely win her heart. As does Dan, a jaded American Deputy Bureau Chief of USAID. Highly charged and turbulent, their love for each other is passionate and unyielding. Their romance unfolds in the beautiful lilac-filled city of Kiev, on frequent working trips to the coalfields of Donetsk and on weekend visits to the sparkling seas of Odessa, to the pristine ski runs of the Carpathians, and even to the chilling spectacle of Chernobyl. Older, wiser, Dan laughs at Vanessa’s determination to change the world, but helps her navigate the political minefield of overseas aid. He admires her achievements, not least the micro-credit scheme she sets up for the resourceful, magnificent wives of the Donetsk coal miners – her beloved Divas – but warns against her deep-felt passion and idealism. At the age of just 26, Vanessa has landed her dream man as well as her dream job. But then Dan springs a bolt from the blue which throws her into turmoil…
“Lifts the lid on aid.” LYNN CURTIS, literary consultant
Me again! I found this book somewhat fascinating as I have little to no knowledge about international aid and how it works. And, while I love Europe and love to travel there, I’ve only been to Western Europe, so I’m fairly unenlightened about Eastern Europe and definitely not too knowledgeable about the Ukraine. It was so interesting to read about the program they were trying to set up and the situation of daily life for many Ukrainians that they were trying to help. There is a romance built into the story as well, but I truly connected with the character of Vanessa, who firmly believed that by sheer determination, perseverance, and intelligence, that she could and would make a difference.
This is the first novel for Diane Chandler and it is a finalist for the People’s Book Prize. (photo by Sandi Friend)
Diane Chandler worked at the European Commission in Brussels for several years, where she managed overseas aid programmes in Ukraine just after the fall of communism. Ukraine soon worked its way into her heart, and she travelled there extensively. Back in London, when Diane married and her daughter was born, she was able to pursue her passion for writing in those few hours she could snatch, and she chose Ukraine as a setting. The Road to Donetsk, a love story set against the background to an overseas aid programme, is her first novel. She is currently working on a second, about a career woman going through the trials of IVF.