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by Tom Bullough

4*

The novelised life of the father of space flight: not a biography, since it’s mostly imaginary, and not truly a novel either, since it takes almost all its inspiration from real lives and events. It’s a constant surprise, a short work that packs a tremendous punch, small parcels of writing that unfold with such richness and intensity of language. Utterly engaging, the interest never flags, I was unable to put it down, for three days, I took it everywhere with me, even into the X ray room when I broke my foot.

The only disappointment was the ending. It ends… oddly. I’m still not sure what the author was trying to say or where he was going with it, but I found the last two chapters mystifying. Aside from the fact that one of the astronauts came from Konstantin’s home town, I wasn’t entirely sure where these particular characters, this particular drama, fitted in the context of Konstantin’s story.  It felt superfluous; I would have been more satisfied with something from the end of Konstantin’s own life, rather than this strange tangential leap into the future.

That one (very small) niggle aside, this book is a constant delight; Konstantin is a remarkable character who lives a gently eventful life. A quiet tale of small dramas, beautifully written and highly recommended.

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