Reading Wednesday

Book Review Hard by a Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvili

Wow. Just wow. I am ignorant in the history of the Central Europe country of Georgia, even though my husband and I have it on our travel list soon. But this book, really opened my eyes to the former Soviet country, and the difficult transition it made after communism. Here is my book review Hard by a Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvili.

Tbilisi Georgia

Vardiashvili’s first novel is not a biography, although he, like the novels protagonist, fled Georgia in the early 1990’s for London as a young boy. The novel introduces us to Saba, his brother Sandro and his father Irakli, who fled Georgia together leaving their mother behind. The plan was to get the mother out as soon as enough money could be saved for her counterfeit papers to be bought.

But that never happens. London is harder than Irakli can manage. Barely earning enough to keep a roof over the heads of himself and his two boys. Years go by. Decades. Irakli threatens many times he is going back to get her. He never does. But then, he steps on the plane.


Irakli disappears. The last communication the boys get is “don’t follow.” Sandro flies to Tbilisi and also disappears. This leaves Saba, guilt ridden and afraid, in London. He has no one he can turn to in either London or Georgia. He takes the plunge, despite getting a warning at the airport from a stranger not to get on the plane, he does anyway.

Danger at Every Turn

Saba’s passport is confiscated at the airport. The first sign that he is being watched. Saba, exhausted with no plan, gets a taxi where he meets Nodar. Nodar will become his local guide, friend, and ultimately sacrifice himself for the cause of Saba and the corrupt and violent Georgia.

The novel is violent yet humorous. It keeps you on your toes throughout as Saba searches for his brother and his father and tries to understand this country that he fled. Most everyone he left behind is dead, but he encounters a few old “friends”, follows a poetic and cryptic trail of clues left by his brother, meets quietly supportive new friends who help him dodge police and harm.

In the end, he is left with unexpected results and feelings about Georgia and his life back in London.

Book Review Hard by a Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvili

I thought this was a great story. Intense. Raw. But I loved the commitment this young man has for his family. He grows in this book. I liked that. It’s not an easy book. It certainly made me even more interested in seeing and learning about Georgia in the near future.

*****Five stars for Hard by a Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvili. See last week’s book review Northwoods by Daniel Mason. We love it when you comment, pin and share our book reviews. Thank you.

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.