With all the news about Russian spies this week, it seems so a propos that I just finished Something Red by Jennifer Gilmore (Scribner, 2010). I certainly love a good Cold War story.
The colder, the better.
Set during the end of the Carter administration, Gilmore’s story chronicles the personal crises of the Goldsteins, a suburban Washington family.
Dad Dennis works for the Department of Agriculture, mom Sharon is a sought-after caterer, son Ben finds himself during his first year at Brandeis, and bulimic daughter Vanessa wanders through the DC punk scene–all set against the backdrop of the hostage crisis, oil crisis, Soviet grain embargo, Olympic boycott.
Food is also very much a part of the story, and Gilmore recreates popular dishes of the day. Cherries jubilee? You’ll never think about it in the same way after reading this novel.
But my favorite part of the novel was all the espionage/Cold War tension. I remember the end of the Carter years quite vividly; it was when I first became interested in politics and international affairs. But I never really appreciated how cold those days really were.