It is 1933 and Mikhail Bulgakov’s enviable career is on the brink of being dismantled. His friend and mentor, the poet Osip Mandelstam, has been arrested, tortured, and sent into exile. Meanwhile, a mysterious agent of the secret police has developed a growing obsession with exposing Bulgakov as an enemy of the state. To make matters worse, Bulgakov has fallen in love with the dangerously outspoken Margarita. Facing imminent arrest, infatuated with Margarita, he is inspired to write his masterpiece.
Ranging between lively readings in the homes of Moscow’s literary elite to the Siberian Gulag, Mikhail and Margarita recounts a passionate love triangle while painting a portrait of a country with a towering literary tradition confronting a dictatorship that does not tolerate dissent. Margarita is a strong, idealistic woman, who is fiercely loved by two very different men, both of whom will fail in their attempts to shield her from the machinations of a regime hungry for human sacrifice. Himes launches a rousing defence of art and the artist during a time of systematic deception and she movingly portrays the ineluctable consequences of love for one of history’s most enigmatic literary figures.
“Mikhail and Margarita renders with astonishing authority and grace not only the oppressive monstrousness of the Soviet regime...but also the intensity and beauty of the love at the novel’s center, a love that’s all the more heartening because it’s generated by figures with such spectacular flaws.”—Jim Shepard
“In Mikhail and Margarita, Himes manages to perform the remarkable task of simultaneously paying homage to Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel and writing her own brilliant novel of love, betrayal and censorship. The result is an atmospheric, gripping, authoritative and deeply suspenseful narrative that utterly transports the reader.”—Margot Livesey
Julie Lekstrom Himes
Julie Lekstrom Himes’ short fiction has been published in Shenandoah, The Florida Review (Editor’s Choice Award 2008), Fourteen Hills (nominated for Best American Mysteries 2011), and elsewhere. This is her debut novel. She lives with her family in Marblehead, Massachusetts.