The Black Maria
When love becomes your greatest enemy
Moscow, 1935. Stalin is in power. People live in constant fear - fear of each other, fear of being denounced, and fear of Stalin's secret police, the NKVD. Ordinary citizens live behind a mask - a public face that enables them to toe the Party line and conceal their true feelings and personal thoughts.
One such citizen is thirty-year-old Maria. She has a past - the sort that, if known, would cost her her freedom. So monstrous her crime, she is forced to live a lie. Maria marries Petrov, a Party activist, not out of love, but as a means of forming a new identity, to escape her past. Her existence is safe - but dull. Until the day she meets Dmitry.
Dmitry is an artist, whose work allows him a standard of living above the average Muscovite. But Dmitry feels straitjacketed by what he's allowed to paint. Instead of the state approved rural idyll of his latest commission, he aspires to paint the female form. But when Maria offers to pose for him, he refuses - until he falls in love with her.
Dmitry's artistic aspirations and Maria's yearning for a new life force them to risk everything in the name of love and freedom.
The Black Maria is a novel about truth - the distortion of it, and the fear of it. And at the heart of the novel, is Maria's brutal past. When love comes unexpectedly, it threatens to expose the truth and destroy her.
"I'm seriously in awe. It's a remarkable piece of historical fiction. It's dark, gritty, and really quite disturbing. And heartbreaking at the same time. A brilliant achievement "
"A disquieting, well-told tale in which the author delves deeply and effectively into the minds of his characters. Is it entertaining? Yes. You'll be glad you read this novel."
"Hard-hitting, dark and, at times, unpalatable. It is also honest."
"I don't recall being quite as thoroughly chilled by Solzhenitsyn's works as I was with Rupert Colley's The Black Maria."
"Wonderfully written, this is a novel that lives long in the memory. Highly recommended."
"An absorbing if confronting read, and stayed with me long after I'd finished it."
Rupert Colley is the founder, editor and writer of the highly successful History In An Hour series of ebooks and audio, published by HarperCollins.
Historical fiction with heart and drama.
About the Author
Colley, Rupert: - "Rupert Colley was born one Christmas Day, which means, as a child, he lost out on presents. Nonetheless, looking back on it, he lived a childhood with a "silver spoon in my mouth" - brought up in a rambling manor house in the beautiful Devon countryside. It's been downhill ever since. He was a librarian for a long time, a noble profession. Then he started a series called History In An Hour, "history for busy people", which he sold to HarperCollins UK. He now lives in London with his wife, two children and dog (a fluffy cockapoo) and writes historical fiction, mainly 20th century war and misery. Historical fiction with heart."