There are three characters in The Hidden Bend. There are four actually, but the fourth is a memory, and with the memory, a voice from other times.
The book started with the mother, Nastasiya, a Ukrainian woman who brought up a child alone and has a successful business. Her life is a struggle, from her lowly background, her lack of education, to her relationships with men and her business success which she has built up through determination and hard work. For Nastasiya, everything is a battle, the world is out to cheat her, and it’s only her wits, her single and strongest ability, which can protect her.
The second character that became fundamental to the novel is a soldier. He is young, just twenty years old, and he has been fighting for years in a war of revolution that, as the book starts, is over and he is part of the victorious army gone amok in the capital city. He is unnamed and remains without a name. Why that was choice was made I can explain later but through the novel he changes as circumstances dictate: from a soldier to a farmer, a mechanic and fisherman, and other roles too. He is always becoming another person, he is an optimist, always able to make the best of his situation.
The English businessman, Piers, would seem ill-fitted to this book. Where the soldier and the Ukrainian mother encounter one hardship after another, Piers has everything: family, wealth, status – all the things that ought to make him happy. Despite all that he is discontented. He suffers from excess, from a life that is too easy, that he has hardly had to work for anything he could not reach anyway. His ailment is common in the developed world.
The fourth character is Yeva, Nastasiya’s daughter. She is bright and on a scholarship to an American university to study computer science. She is in Nastasiya’s mind, she talks to her mother, reminds her mother of their life together in a small flat in Kyiv; she is the most important bond Nastasiya has, and its Yeva’s memory that comforts and supports Nastasiya through her time in New York.
©Copyright Guy Cranswick 2015. All Rights Reserved.