Mikhail and Margarita satisfies on so many levels. The language is beautiful. The story is compelling. The characters are fully formed and still haunt me though I finished the book ages ago. Himes imagines the back story of the real life Mikhail Bulgakov, the author of Master and Margarita. She follows him as he navigates the perils of being an author in Stalin's Russia and as he falls in love with his muse. The novel also follows that muse and Mikhail's rival for her affections who is also his enemy. Recommended for readers who loved The Nightingale and Everything Beautiful Began After. Great for book clubs!— Kelly
A love triangle involving Mikhail Bulgakov, famed author of The Master and Margarita; an agent of Stalin's secret police; and the bewitching Margarita has inescapable consequences for all three in 1930s Russia. A time when expression was censored by authoritarian rule, eerily mirroring the political suppression of today. It is 1933 and Mikhail Bulgakov's enviable career is on the brink of being dismantled. His friend and mentor, the poet Osip Mandelstam, has been arrested, tortured, and sent into exile. Meanwhile, a mysterious agent of the secret police has developed a growing obsession with exposing Bulgakov as an enemy of the state. To make matters worse, Bulgakov has fallen in love with the dangerously outspoken Margarita. Facing imminent arrest, infatuated with Margarita, he is inspired to write his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, a satirical novel that is scathingly critical of power and the powerful. Ranging between lively readings in the homes of Moscow's literary elite to the Siberian Gulag, Mikhail and Margarita recounts a passionate love triangle while painting a portrait of a country with a towering literary tradition confronting a dictatorship that does not tolerate dissent. Margarita is a strong, idealistic woman, who is fiercely loved by two very different men, both of whom will fail in their attempts to shield her from the machinations of a regime hungry for human sacrifice. Himes launches a rousing defense of art and the artist during a time of systematic deception and she movingly portrays the ineluctable consequences of love for one of history's most enigmatic literary figures. Winner of the Center for Fiction's 2017 First Novel Prize
About the Author
Julie Lekstrom Himes' short fiction has been published in Shenandoah, The Florida Review (Editor's Choice Award 2008), Fourteen Hills (nominated for Best American Mysteries 2011), and elsewhere. Mikhail and Margarita is her debut novel. She lives with her family in Marblehead, Massachusetts.