I have always enjoyed alternative histories and this is something a little unusual There are lots of novels where the Germans won the Second World War, but this book takes things in a slightly different direction Imagine the Germans won and were then overthrown by the Russians, leaving a wall which goes right through London and splits the country in two To the North, the Americans look down on a battered, war torn city, which is slowly re building itself To the South, the Russian occupy the land.Part of this country is recognisable, while other sections are different It is 1952 and those in power include Anthony Blunt and Guy Burgess, while Teddy Boys lurk outside milk bars, rationing, as it was despite actually winning the war, was very much in place, the Royal Family are in Scotland and George Orwell was re educated after a book set on a farm, but is, at least, still alive Into this city we meet Jane Cawson, married to a doctor, Nick, for just six months She is concerned with personal matters, than political ones, believing her husband is having an affair with his ex wife, actress Lorelei, the beautiful star of propaganda films When her husband is missing from the office, she fears he is with her and storms around to her house, only to find her dead This leads to Nick being accused of the murder and Jane, along with British policeman, Sergeant Frank Tibbot, investigating the crime This is something between a crime and a spy novel, with Jane investigating a world which is full of lies and secrets It has an interesting premise and the author has created a believable, alternative scenario I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review. I have read alternate historical fiction before but never one as convincing or a fascinating as this It takes place in London in 1952 It isn t the London that I normally read about, there is a wall through the middle that separates the Soviet side from the rest of England I spent some time looking at the map, comparing it to the London that I am aware of The Royal family and Churchill are in the North Jane lives on the Soviet side with her doctor husband Nick When Nick s first wife, Lorelei, is found dead and Nick is arrested Jane is determined to help But fear of the security services, his unfriendly secretary and a feeling of being spied on by neighbours makes it very difficult Whilst she doesn t give up, she also finds out than she thought she would Things that suggest she has never really known him.The murder investigation is an interesting one and even though I really wanted to know if Nick was guilty or innocent, the captivating part of the novel for me was how people had to live their lives How propaganda was used, how people were judged by which radios stations they listened to and the fact that they could be reported for listening to the wrong one The rations, the teddy boys, a feeling of not being able to trust anybody, National Security, and most of all the fear of anyone with power. Entertaining alternative Cold War history thrillerGareth Rubin has come up with a fascinating alternative universe where a Nazi occupied UK is liberated by Soviet Russia and the USA , and subsequently divided by the two superpowers in a mirror of East West Germany and East West Berlin.The action focuses on a London in the early 1950s divided by a wall on which Checkpoint Charlie is on Oxford Street and the Wall divides Trafalgar Square much like Potsdamer Platz ion Berlin.Rubin uses known personalities of the period to further create an alternative history where the Cambridge Five are holding powerful government positions and Orwell has been sent off for re education.The plot centres around Jane Cawson who suspects her husband of still having a relationship with his former wife, Lorelei, star of propaganda films for the new Marxist regime.As you can imagine all is not what it seems and what follows is an entertaining read as she follows a trail of corruption right to the highest levels of the state.The book moves along at quite a pace, with the well observed historical details twisted to make them recognisable but disturbing at the same time..I enjoyed this entertaining thriller with an alternative history that begs for exploration.I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review. Having recently read up on WWII and the roles the Germans, Americans and Soviets, as well as others, played in it, this was the perfect, if terrifying, follow up It is a work of alternative history genius and it s intriguing and quite frightening to read such an intense book based on what could have been What makes it frightful is that Stalin and Hitler have been shown to have at the least respected each other s positions probably because psychopaths tend to recognise their fellow kind.This piece of highly original speculative fiction tells of the takeover of British shores by Nazi Germany before the Soviets and Americans invade and split the country in two with the addition of a partition wall, much like the Berlin wall You can tell almost instantaneously that the author knows his onions when it comes to WWII and he fills the story full of spies, intrigue, political upheaval, corruption, treachery, duplicity, secrets, lies, constant security threats and a whole host of other themes It is a thrilling, gripping, intelligent and all too plausible historical mystery.Liberation Square is well written and impeccably paced with twists and turns aplenty, and I feel this could be enjoyed by a wide range of people but especially those who appreciate murder mysteries, speculative fiction alternative histories, espionage Historical fiction aficionados will also find much to admire here as the period detail is very accurately portrayed It beggars belief that this is Mr Rubin s debut I look forward to reading from him in the future.Many thanks to Michael Joseph for an ARC. Soviet Troops Control British StreetsAfter The Disastrous Failure Of D Day, Britain Is Occupied By Nazi Germany, And Only Rescued By Russian Soldiers Arriving From The East And Americans From The West The Two Superpowers Divide The Nation Between Them, A Wall Running Through London Like A ScarWhen Jane Cawson Calls Into Her Husband S Medical Practice And Detects The Perfume Worn By His Former Wife, Lorelei, Star Of Propaganda Films For The New Marxist Regime, She Fears What Is Between Them But When Jane Rushes To Confront Them, She Finds Herself Instead Caught Up In The Glamorous Actress S DeathNick Is Soon Arrested For Murder Desperate To Clear His Name, Jane Must Risk The Attention Of The Brutal Secret Police As She Follows A Trail Of Corruption Right To The Highest Levels Of The StateAnd She Might Find She Never Really Knew Her Husband At All This book has a fascinating what if alternative history background the UK was occupied by Nazi Germany then liberated by Soviet Russia helped by the Americans, and was divided by the two superpowers by a wall, re positioning the Iron Curtain across the UK Rubin handles this part of his book very well, working out the implications and peopling this alt universe with likely candidates Blunt, Philby and Burgess all have powerful government positions, George Orwell surely his friends wouldn t have called him by his pen name is re educated after writing his Animal Farm.Sadly, the plot in the foreground is less satisfying It s hard to believe that a grieving wife and a local policeman should a trust each other from the outset given the political environment, and b manage to find out what they do while evading the equivalent of the KGB Some of their dead ends are just silly the codes that they think are Dewey library numbers anyone familiar in the slightest with this system knows they re not immediately And the final revelations are underwhelming But I m being picky as an entertaining switch off thriller this works fine It s just that perhaps could have been done with the interesting background. Well, here is a frightening scenario.The year is 1952 The setting is London But not the London we all know D Day was an enormous failure and the war was lost The United Kingdom has been divided in two with a wall running through London Jane and her husband Nick live in the Republic, under Russian control Jane suspects her husband of having an affair with his first wife, Lorelei When Jane decides to confront them, she finds Lorelei dead in the bathtub and soon, husband Nick is arrested by the National Secret Service But all is not what it seems.Jane is just your average woman who suddenly finds herself in the middle of extraordinary circumstances Not only is goodness knows what happening to her husband while he s being held but she also suddenly finds herself responsible for his daughter from his previous marriage Desperate to find evidence that will help free her husband, she soon ends up in situations she is wholly unprepared for.Life is not a bed of roses on this side of the wall Corruption is rife and the things that have been promised do not come to fruition Danger lurks around every corner People are arrested and disappear You can t even trust your neighbours, who seem to be watching your every move, ready to inform the authorities Some try to escape, making desperate attempts to reach the other side of the wall Most fail.The cover of this book is black and white with some red highlights standing out and that s exactly how I saw things in my head while reading At its heart, Liberation Square is a murder mystery and I felt it had a bit of a noir vibe to it As Jane digs deeper, trying to figure out who was responsible for Lorelei s death, she uncovers a multitude of secrets and is left to wonder if she knows her husband at all With so much deceit going on everywhere, I ended up being suspicious of just about everyone and had a hard time imagining living my life like that Scary.With a fascinating and original premise, Liberation Square turned into quite the surprising read for me I say that because dystopian stories don t always hit the right spot with me but this one most definitely did Having the added bonus of a murder mystery and a bit of a spy thriller touch to it, made this an enjoyable, atmospheric and gripping story One that had me guessing until the end and in awe of the utterly believable alternative scenario. A fairly intriguing alternate history thriller in which Britain lost WWII to Germany, only then to be liberated by Soviet Russia For a new author, Gareth Rubin does a surprisingly good job at evoking the Orwellian atmosphere of a communist England The thriller aspects were a bit hit and miss I felt there could have been action and espionage, less to do with Jane and her husband Jane was a bit of a boring protagonist But overall the serviceable characters work well enough for this story to move along. This was mostly a DNF I sped through a bunch of it to find if it got any better but it didn t seem to I was quite excited to read about an alternate history of London being divided by an iron curtain but it was really just a geographical shift of the real history than anything novel Mostly what ruined it for me was too much pining over unrequited love and not enough cool alternate soviet history. My thanks to Penguin Random House Michael Joseph for an eARC via NetGalley of Gareth Rubin s debut novel Liberation Square in exchange for an honest review I quickly found myself totally caught up in the story and so opted to buy its Audible edition narrated by Nicola Walker and Gareth Rubin to combine listening with my reading I am always intrigued by alternative histories Rubin has set his Cold War crime thriller in an alternative 1952 setting in which Britain was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany after D Day had failed disastrously and was liberated in 1945 by Soviet and American with the remains of the British troops As with real life Germany in 1946 the country was then divided with the Soviets declaring their part as the Republic of Great Britain led by a committee chaired by Anthony Blunt London is also divided with a wall erected to surround the Democratic United Kingdom DUK section of the city The main character, Jane Cawson, recently married Dr Nick Cawson When she calls into his medical practice she finds that he is not there She detects the scent of the perfume worn by his ex wife, Lorelei, a glamorous actress who had been the star of propaganda films of the new Marxist regime She is immediately suspicious and goes to Lorelei s house to confront them.Instead, she finds Lorelei s body though the circumstances of her death are unclear The police arrive and interview Jane, who is confused due to a fall and possible concussion However, it isn t long until agents of the National Security Police NatSec are also on the scene and take over Then Nick is arrested for murder.Despite being warned off by the lead NatSec agent, Jane is determined to clear her husband s name In addition, Nick s 14 year old daughter, Hazel, is placed in Jane s care Jane is quite unprepared for the network of secrets and lies she encounters though finds an unlikely ally to assist in her investigation Liberation Square is expertly plotted and had me enthralled from start to finish Rubin creates such a detailed sense of a divided London, deeply scarred by the war as well as by the imposed division From his Historical Notes it s clear that he has researched the division of Berlin and the role of the Stasi and applied this to his alternative vision of Britain I trust that this innovative and entertaining novel will find a wide audience After such an amazing debut I look forward to Rubin s future projects Highly recommended.
Gareth Rubin is a British journalist and author His journalism covers social affairs, travel, architecture, arts and health His novel Liberation Square is a mystery thriller set in Soviet occupied London.In 2013 he directed a documentary, Images of Bedlam, about the connection between art and mental illness and how art can help people express that which they cannot put into words It was filmed
- Liberation Square
- Gareth Rubin
- 14 June 2019 Gareth Rubin