I have had this book in my tbr pile for a while and then I saw I could get the audio version (this version)from Borrowbox, so I did that.
Here’s the blurb …
When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has closed, eleven-year-old Roland Baines’s life is turned upside down. Two thousand miles from his mother’s protective love, stranded at an unusual boarding school, his vulnerability attracts piano teacher Miss Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.
Now, when his wife vanishes, leaving him alone with his tiny son, Roland is forced to confront the reality of his restless existence. As the radiation from Chernobyl spreads across Europe, he begins a search for answers that looks deep into his family history and will last for the rest of his life.
Haunted by lost opportunities, Roland seeks solace through every possible means—music, literature, friends, sex, politics, and, finally, love cut tragically short, then love ultimately redeemed. His journey raises important questions for us all. Can we take full charge of the course of our lives without causing damage to others? How do global events beyond our control shape our lives and our memories? And what can we really learn from the traumas of the past?
Epic, mesmerizing, and deeply humane, Lessons is a chronicle for our times—a powerful meditation on history and humanity through the prism of one man’s lifetime.
This is what I think of as a ‘cradle to grave’ narrative – we follow Roland through most of his life, and get some history and politics into the bargain. It’s a long novel and it covers territory that I think would appeal to baby boomers (because they would have lived through similar times). Some of the tangents didn’t really work for me, I wanted to continue with the main story. However, it is a compelling story and I wanted to know what would happen to Roland, Lawrence (and even Miss Cornell).