In the Red
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: 09/16/2014
My Rating: 3 Stars
A darkly erotic novel about a good girl gone bad. When Irina--Romanian by birth but brought up by American parents who have never understood her-arrives at college she quickly abandons ordinary student life for an affair with an older, mysterious Romanian man named Andrei.
Andrei awakens a powerful sensuality in Irina. And he has money - lots of it. For the first time, Irina feels free. But the longer she stays with Andrei, the more she is certain that she can't leave, and that may be complicit in Andrei's work - whatever that "work" might be. Then an unexpected friendship with a young Russian bride opens the door to escape, and also revenge.
A tantalizing, edgy exploration of women and love, power and money-interwoven with potent, unusual, and nervy Romanian fairy tales-In the Red asks what the legacy of love is, and who will be left unscathed.
A special thank you to Little Brown and Company and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
IN THE RED by Elena Mauli Shapiro is a dark and dangerous exploration of women, power, morality, and money, in a haunting world of sex, love, and crime, mixed with Romanian history and fairy tales.
Irina was scared of colors, she was told when she once spoke Romanian, before being adopted by Americans at age five. She did not speak for nearly a year, and then she spoke English. English is when the memories began. By then she was using the colors. Not the red, though, she was still scared of the red.
Her adoptive parents found two books for her: a Romanian history and a collection of Romanian fairy tales. They both became masked together in her head. Her native country became for her a place where myth and fact were the same thing. She was fascinated by them.
As a freshman at Stanford, Irina is drawn into an Eastern European immigrant underworld, when she meets Andrei, a fellow Romanian, who says he is a capitalist entrepreneur. He is older, but she is drawn to him and they become lovers, she is a kept woman. As most kept women’s roles go, they live to shop, and stay beautiful to be at the beckoning call of their master. Even though she knows she is giving up her career and she realizes this relationship is dark and unhealthy, it is addictive.
She then begins spending time with his two associates, Romanian Drago and former Russian soldier Vasilli. She travels with the men to Las Vegas where Vasilii marries the beautiful Elena, who has been sent to him from Russia. As things turn darker and dangerous, the girls are made to attend a stage show which involves live sex, evil, and money.
Through the tragedy and danger, Irina and Elena become friends as they spend their days shopping and not really accepting what their life involves. Can they escape? Will Andrei save her? Can she become human again?
The book is not my typical type of genre; however, I am always open to expanding my reading. I found it a little confusing with the switching back and forth in time from the present, the Romanian tales, and the future. The front cover draws you into the mysterious world, and if you enjoy dark, edgy, sensual, and explorations between the lines of good and evil, you will enjoy this exotic dangerous journey to love.