28 Nov 2010

Review: "Moonlight over Odessa" - Ode to Odessa

It was one of you bloggers out there - I don't remember who, unfortunately - who recommended this book, "Moonlight over Odessa" by Janet Skeslien Charles and I am very grateful that you did. I have to say I really do not like the title, it is slightly naff if you ask me but luckily the title is nothing to go by. This is a really funny, sensitive and enlightening book.

The story is told by Daria, a 23-year-old Ukranian girl living in her native Odessa and making a living as a secretary for an international company. The job is well-paid, very well-paid and lots of benefits - however, it also has a major disadvantage: Daria's boos Mr. Harmon. Having little understanding for the Ukranian way of doing business, he spends most of his timing bossing around Daria and making inappropriate suggestions. So when Daria introduces him to her good friend Olga, she thinks that it will make everything easier but it is only the beginning of her trouble. Suddenly Olga is out to get Daria's job and to get a financial safety net, Daria begins to work for "Soviet Unions", a mail order bride company who makes arranges marriages between American men and Ukranian women who are longing for the American dream. Daria becomes sucked into the world of these women whose lives in Ukraine are so difficult that they are more than happy to leave everything they know and follow a strange man halfway across the globe.

What struck me about this book was first and foremost the language. I fell for Daria straight away as Skeslien Charles has given her an incredibly clear voice. She really jumps out of the pages and comes to life. Daria is an intelligent, mature young woman and I found her refreshing because she takes responsibility not only for herself but also for her grandmother. She is the main breadwinner and she really is different from many of the other chick lit heroines out there, she is a breath of fresh air.
Another fantastic thing about this book is the way it describes Odessa. I mean, I am actually looking for flight tickets right now! Skeslien Charles makes it sounds like the most intriguing city full of warm and welcoming people.

If you want a great story with a lot of room for laughing but also full of thought-provoking topics, then this is a book for you - you can read more about it here http://www.jskesliencharles.com


  1. I so agree with you about both the title and the cover - neither would inspire me to pick up the book. Just as well we sometimes see beyond them then as this sounds like a fun read, thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Please don't let the cover and title fool you - there is a really good book behind it. I really liked the pictures it painted of Odessa in the 1990s, very interesting.

  3. The cover makes me think this would be a mystery-no idea why! Good review.