I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour today for Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin. My thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph/Penguin Random House for inviting me to take part.
When I was at secondary school, I read Making History by Stephen Fry. At that time I was new to the idea of ‘what if’ and alternate history dystopia, and it absolutely blew my mind. When I saw the synopsis for this book, therefore, I knew instantly that it was one I wanted to read.
Set in London in 1952, this novel takes a look at what could have happened if D-Day had been a complete and utter failure. In our revised history, we were occupied by Nazi Germany, but later liberated by the Americans and the Russians, who divided Britain between them, running a wall of separation through London.
This provides the backdrop for the plot, as Jane Cawson, wife of a GP, stumbles upon the death of her husband’s ex-wife, the glamourous actress, Lorelei Addington. With her husband arrested for Lorelei’s murder, Jane is determined to clear his name, but in doing so discovers far more than she bargained for and threatens to blow her own life apart.
I found the concept of Liberation Square absolutely fascinating, and I loved finding out about this alternate history. It was chilling to read, the realisation being that this really could have happened. The inclusion of a map of the divided United Kingdom and the location of the wall throughout London was a perfect opening visual to set the story up. I liked how the author didn’t immediately launch into a blow by blow account of this alternate world, instead it was accepted as the norm and the reader is allowed to learn all about it at a tantalising pace as the story unfolds, which held me completely enthralled.
The plot itself is incredibly compelling; murder mystery, corruption, lies and deceit! There were shades of hardboiled detective fiction, with a femme fatale in Lorelei, the dark and heavy atmosphere, but I enjoyed the twist that the ‘detective’ of the piece was a young and unassuming woman; Jane Cawson. The meek wife of a GP, she strikes much more as the damsel in distress type, yet her journey throughout the novel sees her character develop realistically into someone far more strong and capable. I found myself utterly gripped and swept along by some truly fantastic story-telling.
An intelligent, immersive and thrilling read for fans of alternate histories and crime/detective fiction alike. Thoroughly enjoyable!
1952. Soviet troops control British streets. After the disastrous failure of D-Day, Britain is occupied by Nazi Germany, but is eventually liberated 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 scar.
When 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 glamourous actress’ death.
Nick 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 to the highest level of the state.
And she might find she never really knew her husband at all.
Set within the familiar streets of London, Rubin’s debut dystopian thriller dares to reimagine what 1950s Britain would have become under the iron rule of the Soviet Union.
About the Author
Gareth Rubin is an author and journalist who has written for many national newspapers. He lives in London; Liberation Square is his first novel.
*I was provided with a copy of Liberation Square, however the decision to read was my own and this review forms my honest opinion.