Moonlight in Odessa By Janet Skeslien Charles
304 pp Hardcover
A talented new American novelist gives us an an age-old story with a modern twist: a tragicomic look at the world where sex and commerce meet love and marriage: the mail-order bride industry.
Daria is a beautiful and intelligent Ukrainian woman who can't get ahead in life. Lonely and lovelorn, she must balance the struggles of her everyday life, while supporting the grandmother who raised her. Thanks to her excellent English, she lands a job as an interpreter for "Soviet Unions," a matchmaking agency that organizes socials where desperate Odessan women can meet Western men. But when two very different men fall for her - a dangerous Ukrainian mobster and a shy American teacher nearly twice her age - Daria must decide whether to abandon her roots. Ultimately, she chooses the security of America, but soon discovers that it isn't all that it's cracked up to be…
Part A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian, part Desparate Housewives, Moonlight in Odessa is a novel about the choices and sacrifices people make in pursuit of love and stability and the lengths people will go to help--and hinder--each other in search of a happy ending.
Author Bio from her Website:
I grew up on the plains of Montana, in a town of two thousand people. I have always been a writer, with a journal for observations, prose, and poetry, though for me, writing is a very private activity.
As a teen, my family hosted many exchange students and I lived with a family in France. These experiences made me curious about the outside world and fed my love of travel, languages, and foreign culture and literature.
At the University of Montana, I studied English, French, and Russian. I also spent a year on a university exchange at the University of Maryland. After graduation, I went to Odessa, Ukraine as a Soros Fellow.
I loved teaching and there was never a boring minute in Odessa. Sarah, the other Soros Fellow, and I lived through blackouts, no heat in winter, corruption, mafia shootings, and tried to teach in a country with textbooks that said things like, “The situation in capitalist countries is very different. It is not an easy thing for young people there to find work. In fact, many school-leavers have to join the army of the unemployed.” Despite the dismal, squat Soviet school building and the conflicts we had with the principal, my students were brilliant. So kind and thoughtful. They walked me to the bus stop, they brought me bouquets, cakes, and books. Why did I never think to thank my teachers in this way when I was younger? My math teacher Mr. Goodan (who stayed with me after school to help me do my homework) and my English teacher Ms. Hanson (who also taught art, German, and was the coach of Speech and Drama and directed our school plays) were amazing, and I feel very lucky to have had them in my life.
After two years in Odessa, I returned to the States and started writing stories almost immediately, but it took several years before I truly understood what my time in Odessa meant. I was too inexperienced and was unable to look at situations objectively. I continued to work, travel and study.
I found a job in France and intended to stay for a year. On my first day in France, I met the man who became my husband, and I’ve been in Paris for ten years. I taught in the French public school system for six years. As a foreigner, I would never have tenure or job security, and I worked at three different schools each year. I ran from school to school and also gave fifteen private lessons per week. Most nights I got home at eight or nine p.m. During those years, I didn’t make any friends or take advantage of living in Paris in any way. I really wanted to write, but between creating lesson plans and correcting papers, there was no time. My husband saw what I didn’t – that I was unhappy. He encouraged me to quit my job. I started to write, but felt isolated because I had never had time to make friends. I started a writing workshop at Shakespeare & Company to meet like-minded people.
Thanks to my teaching schedule, my husband and I have been able to spend a month in the summer in Montana with my family as well as some time in the winter with them in South Carolina. I love Paris, but like any big city, there are days the sidewalks and metro are so crammed with people you can barely think or get where you need to go. This is why I love the contrast of the plains of Montana and the shores of South Carolina. Space. Room to think.
Working towards publication has been a humbling and eye-opening experience. I had no idea so many passionate people came together to work on a book. I feel very lucky that the editors at Bloomsbury love the book. In the New York and London offices, everyone has been incredibly supportive. This is truly an international effort. The novel is set in Odessa, Ukraine. My agent is English. My editor’s assistant is Japanese-Danish, my copy editor is from New Zealand. I’m American. The book was written in France and typeset in Scotland. My first fan letter came from a Swede. Rights have been sold in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil, Sweden, Iceland, Serbia, and Romania.
For more information and a reader’s guide, link here for the author’s website.
I found this book and requested it from Shelf Awareness. The book is to be republished in paperback.
Amazon purchasing information is linked here US/UK/Canada respectively. Only hardbound are available in US and Canada but will be soon. Softbound in UK.Moonlight in Odessa: A Novel/ Moonlight in Odessa/ Moonlight In Odessa