Fifty-something Shona is a proud former pupil of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, but she loathesÂ The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie;Â it gives the school a bad name.
Artist, linguist and musician, Shona is thrilled when selected by Marcia Blaine herself to travel back in time to 19th-century Russia. Her mission – she thinks – is to play matchmaker for the beautiful and orphaned heiress, Lidia Ivanovna. It’s certainly not Shona’s fault, is it, when dead bodies are start falling all round her?
HasÂ got the wrong end of the stick ?And will she discover in time just who the real villain is?
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Goldon Samovar is a very unlikely crime novel – something Olga Wojtas herself says about this quirky and entertaining debut. If you can imagine Anna Karenina written by PG Wodehouse (I stole that from Linda Cracknell because it’s spot on!) then you’ll grasp something of the style at play, and begin to understand some of the difficulties of the very Scottish, very contemporary, Shona in Russian high society of the 1800s.
It’s a very funny novel, full of one-liners, misconceptions and farce. It’s a very clever novel, well-written and researched. And it’s also unusual, something that might take you a few pages to settle in to – and all I can say is, persevere until you have Shona’s voice and mannerisms clear in your mind, and you’re in for a treat.
I had the honour to introduce OlgaWojtas earlier in the year at the Tarbert Book Festival. I said then, that I’d always regretted (tongue-in-cheek) that my publisher hadn’t used a certain strapline for my travel memoir of Bangladesh. Now though, I’m delighted, because it’s a perfect fit for Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, which is, undoubtedly aÂ … ‘rollicking romp through Russia’!
Published by Contraband (2018) in paperback and eBook formats.