A Russian filmmaker finds love where he leasts expects it.
Catherine the Great's life seems to have been made for the cinema. Countless love affairs and wild sexual escapades, betrayal, revenge, murder - there is no shortage of historical drama. But Oleg Erdmann, a young Russian filmmaker, seeks to discover and portray the real Catherine, her essential, emotional truth.
When he is dropped from the film he initially scripted - his name summarily excised from the credits - Erdmann is cast adrift in a changing world. A second chance beckons when an old friend enriched by the capitalist new dawn invites him to refashion his opus for a television serial. But Erdmann is made acutely aware that the market exerts its own forms of censorship.
While he comes to accept that each age must cast Catherine in its own image, one question continues to nag at him. Was the empress, whose sexual appetites were sated with favours bought with titles and coin, ever truly loved? In his search for an answer, Erdmann will find a love of his own that brings the fulfilment that filmmaking once promised him.
Andrei Makine is among the most skilled and subtle authors working today, and this novel is one of his masterpieces. - Times Literary Supplement.
The visionary Makine has written yet another remarkable novel. A Woman Loved is about art, film-making, an artist's search for expression and a woman's desperate if despotic search for love. It is also about how ideas give life meaning. Above all, it is about Russia, past and present. - Irish Times.
We are fortunate, in our own grey time, to have a novelist like Makine, and he has been fortunate in the translator who has brought all his books to the English-reading world. Geoffrey Strachan renders him perfectly into English. I have read Makine in both French and English, and Strachan contrives to make the English reading experience no different from reading the original French. This is remarkable. - Scotsman.
This novel about a film-maker writing, and trying to make, a film about Catherine the Great, first under the supervision of Soviet censors and then in the mad days of the Yeltsin presidency when the oligarchs ran wild and became precariously rich, is one of his best. And that's very high praise. - Spectator Books of the Year