Sophie van Llewyn
Mr B's review
Mr B’s Christmas Catalogue Review 2018
In short chapters that could stand alone as micro-novellas but also combine perfectly to create a smoothly-flowing novel, we are transported to Ceauşescu’s Romania. Comedy abounds, speckled with flashes of magical realism, as newly-weds Liviu and Alina struggle with daily life and keeping below the Secret Service radar. A sometimes kooky, sometimes tense reminder of recent Central European history – a time and place where the consequences of overlooking a pupil’s possession of a banned magazine can be far-reaching.
When Alina’s brother-in-law defects to the West, she and her husband become persons of interest to the secret services, causing both of their careers to come grinding to a halt.
As the strain takes its toll on their marriage, Alina turns to her aunt for help – the wife of a communist leader and a secret practitioner of the old folk ways.
Set in 1970’s communist Romania, this novella-in-flash draws upon magic realism to weave a tale of everyday troubles, that can’t be put down.
‘A story to savour, to smile at, to rage against and to weep over.’ – Zoe Gilbert, author of ‘Folk’
‘A story to savour, to smile at, to rage against and to weep over.’ – Zoe Gilbert, author of ‘Folk’; Lucid and powerfully affecting.’ – Helen Rye, winner of the Bath Flash Fiction Award; ‘Sophie van Llewyn’s stunning debut novella shows us there is no dystopian fiction as frightening as that which draws on history.’ – Christina Dalcher, author of ‘VOX’; ‘A masterful blend of the political and the personal, the magical and the mundane, the historical and the hyperbolic.’ – Ingrid Jendrzejewski, editor-in-chief of FlashBack Fiction; ‘Sophie van Llewyn has brought light into an era which cast a long shadow.’ – Joanna Campbell, author; ‘The uncertainties of life and love, and the insatiable quest for freedom – bottled neatly in a set of stories that captivate and enchant.’ – Michelle Elvy, coordinator of New Zealand’s Flash Fiction Day and Bath Flash Fiction Award judge; ‘A must-read by a masterful writer.’ – Christopher Allen, author of ‘Other Household Toxins’; ‘A dizzying, daring window on life in Ceausescu’s Romania.’ – Stephanie Hutton, author of ‘Three Sisters of Stone’; ‘A superb example of the novella-in-flash genre. Bottled Goods is an impressive debut in the tradition of Eastern European Absurdist fiction.’ – Jude Higgins, Bath Flash Fiction Award organiser;