Iron Curtain: A Love Story (Hardcover)
One of The New Yorker's Best Books of 2023
East and West collide in a “timely” and “bittersweet tale of loyalty, love, and the siren call of freedom” (Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times).
Milena Urbanska is a red princess living in a Soviet satellite state in the 1980s. She enjoys limitless luxury and limited freedom; the end of the Cold War seems unimaginable. When she meets Jason, a confident but politically naive British poet, they fall into bed together. Before long, Milena is planning her escape. She follows Jason to London, where she’s shocked to find herself living in bohemian poverty. The rented apartment is dingy, the food disgusting, and Jason’s family withholding, but at least there are no hidden cameras recording her every move. As she adjusts to her new life, however, Milena discovers the dark side of Jason’s idea of freedom.
With cool wit and tender precision, Vesna Goldsworthy delivers a razor-sharp vision of two worlds on the brink of change, amidst the failures of family and state. Iron Curtain is a sly, elegant comedy of manners that challenges the myths we tell ourselves.
— William Boyd, author of Trio
Vesna Goldsworthy’s masterly novel retains the grace and resilience of literary art while wading deep into the most riveting human drama.… Goldsworthy is at once the most impartial and the tenderest of observers, a bold dramatist and a subtle humorist, and she has written a book so full of steel and compassion that it stands glitteringly apart.
— Rachel Cusk, author of Second Place
Original and memorable.… A profound understanding of the timeless realities of love, betrayal, and the desire for revenge.
— Pat Barker, author of The Women of Troy
An extraordinary evocation of two wildly contrasted worlds.… Vesna Goldsworthy writes so well!
— Michael Frayn, author of Skios
Atmospheric and gloriously vivid.…The pages fly by, and Goldsworthy’s careful scrutiny brings warmth and sympathy to her tale of belonging and betrayal. Tense, brooding and often hilarious, Iron Curtain finds bright sparks as well as bleakness in the cold war’s dying embers.
— James Stuart - Guardian
Excellent… a comedy of manners that is nevertheless fraught with tension.… Goldsworthy captures the human perspective of life in the cold war superbly and sympathetically.
— Alexander Larman - Observer
Superb.… The divided continent has been at the heart of countless novels over the decades, but few can have been as cleverly crafted or better told than Vesna Goldsworthy’s Iron Curtain.… Brilliantly written.
— Nick Rennison - Sunday Times