Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Gorgito's Ice Rink by Elizabeth Ducie + Excerpt

Gorgito's Ice Rink by Elizabeth Ducie
Published in the UK by Chudleigh Phoenix Publications in October 2014.

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Gorgito's Ice Rink was runner up in Writing Magazine's 2015 Self-Published Book of the Year Awards.

Two small boys grieving for lost sisters — torn between family and other loves. Can keeping a new promise make up for breaking an old one?

When Gorgito Tabatadze sees his sister run off with a soldier, he is bereft. When she disappears into Stalin’s Gulag system, he is devastated. He promises their mother on her death-bed he will find the missing girl and bring her home; but it is to prove an impossible quest.

Forty years later, Gorgito, now a successful businessman in post-Soviet Russia, watches another young boy lose his sister to a love stronger than family. When a talented Russian skater gets the chance to train in America, Gorgito promises her grief-stricken brother he will build an ice-rink in Nikolevsky, their home town, to bring her home again.

With the help of a British engineer, who has fled to Russia to escape her own heartache, and hindered by the local Mayor who has his own reasons for wanting the project to fail, can Gorgito overcome bureaucracy, corruption, economic melt-down and the harsh Russian climate in his quest to build the ice-rink and bring a lost sister home? And will he finally forgive himself for breaking the promise to his mother?

A story of love, loss and broken promises. Gorgito's story, told through the eyes of the people whose lives he touched.

Excerpt: Nikolevsky, February 1995

Context: The book opens on 14th February 1995 at a Valentine’s Day party on the banks of the river. We meet four of the main characters: Gorgito, the host; Emma, a British engineer working for him; Yulia, a talented skater; and Dima, her brother.

‘Look, look, Uncle Gorgito—they’re coming!’ Gorgito and Emma turned as Dima came bounding along the river bank towards them. Following the direction of the small boy’s pointing finger, Emma watched a group of brightly-dressed skaters sweep around the curve of the river. They were whooping and twirling as they moved nearer, trailing heart-shaped balloons behind them in the wind.
Growing up in England, Emma had spent hours gazing at the picture hanging in her grandmother’s hall: children skating on a frozen river in a snow-covered landscape. Gran always said it brought back memories of her childhood in a village outside Petrograd, happy days before the world changed and her family was forced to flee. Now that scene was coming alive before Emma’s eyes. If she turned around, the outskirts of Nikolevsky were just across the road, but with her back to the town she could see only countryside, apart from the elegant spans of the main city bridge to her left, bringing traffic from Yaroslavl or Moscow. Small stands of silver birch trees gave way to a sloping expanse of bank down to the River Volga, a couple of hundred metres wide at this point.
On the other side of the river, open fields stretched away into the distance, empty apart from an occasional factory chimney on the horizon. Downstream at the bend in the river the white walls and green tiled roof of the Charitina Monastery, favoured retreat of the Romanov rulers, stood proud on the edge of the flowing water. Above its church, the grey, onion-shaped domes glinted in the sunlight.
‘I can see her—isn’t she brilliant?’ Dima was now hopping from one foot to the other and pulling at Gorgito’s sleeve.
A tiny blonde girl had broken away from the main group of skaters and was performing arabesques, lunges and spins. She wore red velvet with white fur at the throat and wrists. A matching Cossack hat completed the outfit. Her friends on the ice and the crowds on the bank applauded.
Gorgito smiled and patted the young boy on the shoulder.
‘She certainly is, Dima, and beautiful as well,’ he said, bending to straighten the knitted cap which had slid over the boy’s ear and was in danger of falling off his blond hair altogether, ‘She’s a wonderful skater—a true ballerina of the ice. She’s Odette, Princess Aurora and the Sugar Plum Fairy all rolled into one.’ Straightening, he turned to look at Emma. ‘And she’ll be a star one day soon; our very own champion.’‘

Meet the author

When Elizabeth Ducie had been working in the international pharmaceutical industry for nearly thirty years, she decided she’d like to take a break from technical writing—text books, articles and training modules—and write for fun instead. She started by writing travel pieces, but soon discovered she was happier, and more successful, writing fiction. In 2012, she gave up the day job, and started writing full-time. She has published four novels, three collections of short stories and a series of manuals on business skills for writers.

Author links: 
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  1. Wow... what an unusual story premise. It's so backwards to what we usual read about this time period! Thanks for sharing. It's one I need to tell my book club about. ❤

    1. This does sound like a beautiful and unusual read :-)

  2. That sounds like such a touching, emotional story.