The Vanishing Futurist by Charlotte Hobson

The Vanishing Futurist

When twenty-two-year-old Gerty Freely travels to Russia to work as a governess in early 1914, she has no idea of the vast political upheavals ahead, nor how completely her fate will be shaped by them. Yet as her intimacy with the charismatic inventor, Nikita Slavkin, deepens, she's inspired by his belief in a future free of bourgeois clutter, alight with creativity and sleek as a machine.In 1917, revolution sweeps away the Moscow Gerty knew. The ...

Details The Vanishing Futurist

TitleThe Vanishing Futurist
Release DateMay 3rd, 2016
PublisherFaber & Faber
GenreFiction, Cultural, Russia, Historical, Historical Fiction, Novels

Reviews The Vanishing Futurist

  • Penny (Literary Hoarders)
    2.5 stars = meh I don't see this one capturing the Walter Scott Prize later in was okay, pretty dull read and nothing terribly exciting in it. It just didn't pull me in and I would look at it reluctantly before picking it up - a sign that the book isn't really working out for me.
  • Milena Widdowson
    I first came across Charlotte Hobson when I was a student, deeply fascinated by Eastern European history, culture and politics. She had just published Black Earth City, an account of her year spent as a student in Russia. Though it has been quite some time since I read it – and I think I see a re-read on the horizon this summer – I do remember being absolutely drawn into her writing and devouring the book in one sitting. There might have been...
  • Norton Stone
    An absorbing snapshot from the Russian revolution that I couldn't help but bracket with Red Joan, which was a marvelous read. Two female protagonists, intelligent, perhaps at first a little wet behind the ears, whose stories are told many years later in extended flashbacks interwoven with a reflective narrative.This story is a grim account of the communist dream going tits up and the dream as a nightmare. The main character through it all is both...
  • Annika
    I’d recommend this! Very interesting and engaging read, neither simple nor complicated.
  • Kirsty
    Charlotte Hobson's The Vanishing Futurist caught my eye soon after its publication in 2016, but it has taken me quite a while to procure a copy of the novel.  Russia and its history absolutely fascinates me, and I was intrigued by the twist which Hobson has added to the turmoil of the 1918 Revolutions.  Anthony Beever calls this novel 'breathtakingly original, luminously intelligent and impossible to put down', and The Guardian describes i...
  • Annette
    I had high hopes for this book and thought I'd be taken on an exhilirating adventure but having arrived at page 85 it still feels as if I'm waiting for something to happen. I also don't like the very simplistic way it's written, in fact at times the writing feels almost amateurish and I'm unclear if the writer's intention is to convey someone who is very innocent or if their writing is just a bit poor. The characterisation is weak, I cared about ...
  • Jonathan Norton
    The purported memoirs, written in the early 70s, of an old English governess who got mixed up with the Russian avant-garde in 1917-19. Although the subject matter is strong, it doesn't grasp its potential or engage with it much except to teach the bland and unconvincing moral that socialism is a bad thing because you can't change human beings too much. A decent page-turner though.
  • Mark
    If you can't see why the communist dream was so compelling and exciting at the start, it is perhaps because life is too easy, blinkered or comfortable. Gerty is a credible, naive go-getter desperate to escape the stultifying atmosphere of her arid Cornish backwater by becoming a governess in Moscow. Almost immediately she finds herself swept up in the passion and then miasma of a far distant revolution that was never hers in the first place.Decad...
  • Annabel Frazer
    I really enjoyed this entertaining and original story. I've certainly never read anything set in Russia circa World War One before and if I'd planned to, wouldn't have known where to start and would have feared it would be very depressing. But The Vanishing Futurist isn't depressing - it's funny, lively and warm-hearted and although its storyline inevitably takes a darker turn as we progress through WW1 and into the Twenties, things never get rel...
  • Ninnytendo
    Gertie is a young English governess in Moscow during the years previous to the Russian Revolution. In 1917 she becomes part of a communist commune led by the visionary inventor Nikita Slavkin and her life will change forever. This is a fictional autobiographical account of a woman’s life in a commune during the Russian Revolution, the difficulties they endured and finding love in troubled times. The protagonist is a young and brave foreigner ge...
  • Tom Destry
    I took the this book on holiday and it gave me a huge amount of pleasure. I read it fast and straight and found so much to enjoy -- as well as the ticklish similes, the tone is beautifully judged, the narrative fair whisked me along, and then suddenly it becomes exciting, too! I really inhabited Gerty's world as her blank page was so violently scribbled on. Slavkin is magnificently enigmatic, and the contrast between his otherworldly serenity and...
  • Brian
    A fictional memoir of the Russian revolution from an English governess narrator who gets caught up in the events and lives to tell the tale. A fine novel with intriguing insights, which gathers pace as it edges closer to the resolution of the mystery of the 'Vanishing Futurist' of the title. A requiem for an impossible dream (life itself) which engages as well as it entertains. Recommended!
  • Tamsin
    I've read 4 or 5 chapters of this, the revolution is happening and yet I'm still waiting for something interesting to happen
  • Mandy
    Interesting fictional but fact based depiction of the first heady months of the Russian Revolution - but somehow I couldn't quite relate to the characters.
  • Brona's Books
    I found the The Vanishing Futurist to be a rather peculiar read.I'm always fascinated by the Russian Revolution and this was a curious and different angle from which to view it. But it was rather weird reading a book that I wasn't completely sure if I was enjoying it or not. The cover by LaBoca, on the other hand, I adored every time I saw it!I loved learning about Russian avant-garde art which I knew next to nothing about before. I also wasn't a...
  • Chris Davies
    I found this a fascinating account of the Russian Revolution from the perspective of a hopelessly naive English governess. Fast moving and written in clear, engaging prose, this is a cleverly constructed book. The first person narration works well, and there is an engaging framing story. The writers voice almost disappears, and it is if we are in fact reading an account from the time. The hopes and dreams of the first communists are well describe...
  • Eric Lee
    Charlotte Hobson has written a book that touches on two subjects that interest me enormously: the Russian Revolution and time travel. Without giving away too much of the plot -- and there is a central mystery which is explained on the very first page -- suffice it to say that the real time travellers here are the author and reader. Hobson has managed to get into the mind of a young English woman who finds herself in the Moscow of 1918. That woman...
  • Jamie Goth
    Set in Russia during the revolution. All about character rather than plot, but with a good dose of mystery and some intrigue. It is set in a house share of characters developing their own brand of communist ideas against a backdrop of increasing despotism in the world outside. The central character is an English governess/ tutor. She isn't all that interesting herself, but is well embedded within the little community and is an excellent device fo...
  • Ruth
    I really wanted to enjoy this book, but I didn't. I'm not sure if it's my fault - fiction doesn't seem to be doing much for me at the moment. I thought it would be more exciting - with it being such a tumultuous period in history - but I spent pages and pages waiting for something interesting to happen.
  • Matthew Riley
    While a possibly interesting premise, the book is poorly fleshed out and dryly written. I found myself wandering whilst reading and often going back to check I hadn’t skipped a paragraph. The book feels much more like a semi-fictional account of the author’s travels to or research of Russia. I had to stop reading about 30% through.
  • Mike
    One of the most enthralling pieces of writing on Revolutionary Russia that I've come across. The research that has gone into this work is quite something, and yet it doesn't distract at all from the narrative.Russophiles and those interested in this period of history could do a lot worse that bury themselves in the Moscow of Hobson's writing.
  • Lewis Birchon
    Read this after China Mieville's October, and glad I did as my prior knowledge of the world of Communist Russia was sadly lacking. Engaging and with a fantastical feeling that, remarkably enough, holds its roots in the artistic revolution.
  • Gayle
    First half was good - felt it dropped off in the second part, Didn't really invest in the characters and Slavkin became a bit boring. Historical setting interesting though. Prob 3 stars is a bit harsh mre of a 4 and a half
  • kat friedmann
    Fantastic read. Great storyline and interesting approach to writing. Loved the inclusion of Russian language and lack of English translations. Those moments allowed for mote of an authentic reading experience.
  • Wendy
    Puzzling. This is the sort of book that makes me want to ask really how much was fiction and how much fact? Was there a Gerty who lived much of this story? I would have loved an appendix with historical references/facts and also alluded to parts where storytelling-fictional licence was used.
  • Enceladus
  • Gaby
    I enjoyed learning about this period of Russian history through the eyes of the main character Gerty. But wasn't totally gripped by the characters and at times wasn't sure where the plot was going.
  • Porcelina
    Unconvincing. Characters' motivations not drawn fully enough. Commune life dull to read about. Writing style very simplistic.
  • Paigie
    The book was okay, but page one should have been at the end. Skip page one until the end.
  • Claire
    short version:utterly wonderful and will read anything by this author