The ordeal crushes Aliide: "The only thing left alive was the shame. A marriage to the Communist party organiser eventually follows, while Ingel and her daughter are sent to Siberia. With independence come recriminations. One communist claims: "We were all just following orders. We were good people. Sexual terror, on the other hand, appears circular. Aliide and Zara, 40 years apart, bathe and burn their clothes in a ritual "purge" following their experiences of abuse.
When Tallinn acquires its first sex shop, the pimps are ex-KGB. For Aliide, "Everything was repeating itself. Even if the ruble had changed to the kroon. Shot through with sibling jealousy, the plot has a gothic power and implausibility, with people stifled in sealed chambers and corpses left under floorboards.
Regime change becomes a pretext for settling personal scores; people move into homes vacated by purged neighbours, conniving against their "rehabilitation" with each blast of glasnost. In a twist reminiscent of German film drama The Lives of Others , uncovered intelligence reports deepen the sense of betrayal.
Yet resistance also survives. Their secret language, writes Oksanen, "sprouted word by word and started to blossom mistily, yellowish, the way dead languages blossom, rustling sweetly like the needle of a gramophone". Aug 30, ISBN Add to Cart.
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