4 out of 4 stars
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The Dancing Barberby A.C. Michael is an interesting book set in the backdrop of the dark days of Soviet Union's atrocities against Ukraine and its people. This harrowing episode in the lives of the characters continues to haunt them even 30 years later. Despite the complex interweaving of the characters' lives, A.C. Michael skillfully connected them to each other like a spider web. The book is a fiction, a suspense thriller injected with a great deal of humor. The main scene of the story is England.
The story revolves around peculiarly exciting characters who all has a gloomy story to tell of the struggle under Stalin's Soviet Union. Taras, the main character is a renowned ballet dancer in his youth. Later he opens a ballet school and is the ballet master by day while doing a side job as a barber at the close of day. Halyna is his hardworking wife whom he never gets to appreciate until she declares a "strike"against him. There is Klem, an Orthodox priest who secretly rebels against the Soviet Union through the use of his journslistic and poetic acumen to advance his cause of liberating Ukraine. There are a few more equally important casts who give flavor and humor to the story.
The Dancing Barber is intensely packed with accurate historical information about the Great Famine orchestrated by the Soviets against the hapless Ukranian people. And for those who scarcely escaped the ordeal, it was survival of the fittest. I love how A.C. Michael evokes an interplay of emotions--hate, anger, fear, humor, bitterness and pleasure. Every chapter is written with exceedingly vivid descriptions that one can almost instantly make a mental visualization of the events, how it happened, the characters' appearances, nuances and actions. Even the article "the" which is splattered generously across the chapters where the twins, Lena and Zena appear is not at all annoying. Rather, it provides the comic element to the story.
The Biblical passages written on the face of each chapter serve as a moral as they relate to what transpires in that chapter. It allows the reader to reflect and connect the Bible to real-life situations. It somehow awakens the religiosity in a person making him realize that in whatever circumstance he is in, there is a Supreme God who can let him out from it.
People who have appetite for history will love this book. It gives us a peek into the Soviet Union-Ukraine political upheaval. For my part, I found myself not willing to put down the book once I started reading the first page. Absolutely, this book is anazingly different from other books of the same genre. I give it a 4 out of 4 stars though I did not like the ending of the story. I would certainly recommend this book for everyone to experience the myriad of emotions I myself had. My salute to A.C. Michael
The Dancing Barber
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