Some time ago I read a potted history of the Russian revolutions by David Footman and, whilst researching the author to write my blog on the book, I came across references to this book. So, of course, I ordered it and it finally floated to the top of my “to read” pile.
David Footman was a diplomat, a spy and a historian so it isn’t surprising that this book is set in the diplomatic community in the Balkan state of Vuchinia where the narrator, Mills, has been posted.
The story is, ostensibly, about how an underemployed consul and other members of the bored ex-pat community fall for a con man who turns up in Vuchinia, having fled Poland.
Vickery, the con man, stirs things up, makes life more interesting and exciting and then moves on, leaving a trail of turmoil and destruction behind him.
The story is also a picture of early to mid-20th century English-abroad behaviour; the cliquishness, the superiority and the smugness.
It was clear from early on how the story was going to unfold but mostly I enjoyed the journey. Occasionally, I wanted to shout at Mills not to be so naive, to stop being so self-centred and to treat the women in his life better. It is definitely a book of its time when it comes to women’s role in the plotline!
This book isn’t a page turner but it is a pleasant way to while away a Sunday.