The Year Of Wonders Took My Breath Away –Serov | Independent Newspapers Limited
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The Year Of Wonders Took My Breath Away –Serov

Posted: May 3, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Yemi Adebisi, Lagos.

Frankling speaking, the London-born author of The Russian Tapestry, Banafsheh Serov, has a crowd of fans all around her; not necessarily because of the fantasy of her writing but perhaps because of her rare leadership acumen garnered from a number of books she reads often.



According to her, The Russian Tapestry is based on her husband’s grandparents, Marie and Alexei Serov,  a love story set against the turmoil of World War I, the Russian revolution and civil war.

Marie Kulbas, the daughter of a wealthy Estonian merchant, is a young law student, excited about her new life in the vibrant city of St. Petersburg. Ahead of her is a life of invitations to glittering balls, sumptuous midnight suppers and ballets in gilded theatres. This idyllic world however is threatened by the start of the war and the departure of her beloved brother and fiancé to the German Front.

Which books did she read at childhood? Her words: “Growing up, we didn’t have the range of books available that young adults enjoy today. As a young girl in Iran, I enjoyed Roald Dahl and had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but the first book I remember being immersed in was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I was ten at the time and stayed up all night to read it. After that I read Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell which I suppose set me on the path to reading epic historical fiction.”

But now as she joins the league of writers, she said she has sympathy for both fiction and non-fiction.

“I’m lucky that, as a bookseller, I’m exposed to a wide range of books. I read widely – both fiction and non-fiction – and especially love discovering talented emerging writers. It’s hard for me to pin down one favourite book, but if pressed I’d choose The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. It literally took my breath away and since then, I’ve read all her books. I love her skill in seamlessly weaving history (often choosing real life characters) into her fiction. If I was to meet any author, it would be a toss between Victor Hugo or Leo Tolstoy and I wouldn’t bring them back to life but travel to meet them in their lifetime.”

Banafsheh spent her childhood in Tehran. In 1982, in the midst of the Iran/Iraq war, her parents came up with a plan to smuggle the family out of Iran. Caught by the Turkish border guards, Banafsheh and her family spent three weeks crammed in a cell with five other refugees while their fate was decided.