Industry of Souls, The
As he wakes up on his eightieth birthday, Alexander Bayliss, a British citizen who spent twenty-five years in a Soviet gulag after being charged with espionage, and the next twenty years in the Russian village of Myshkino, has a major decision to make: will he remain in the village or return home to England where his family has just discovered that he is alive? We learn of the human side of his gulag life and his experiences in the village, and how the collapse of the Soviet Union affected them.
[This book is 'well-loved' but new copies are unable to be purchased.]
Comments from Groups
We all loved this book. Well constructed with well defined characters. Well written and believable. In spite of the horrors of the Gulag, we felt it a "beautiful" book - the language gentle and very descriptive. Diamond Harbour 001
This was a deeply moving book that touched us all with its great humanity and wisdom. It is an epic tale of spirit. Gisborne 006
We rated this book as one of the top, if not the top, of all the books we've had. We felt the cover did the book a disservice as none of us would have chosen it if we were browsing. However, the writing is beautiful and engaged us from the start. We loved the way the author told the story of his life in the gulag during the course of one day in his present life. The movement between past and present gave relief to what could have been a grim narration. We recommend this as an excellent read. Thames 005
Everyone loved it!! Unusual for us. Nelson 048
A very soulful book. Very far reaching and unlike what we expected. We enjoyed being transported to Russia, and it made us think about the nature of friendship and survival. Auckland 371
Everyone was impressed with "The Industry of Souls'. We found it a gripping story; so well written and such an illuminating account of what life in the gulag was like, and the changes in Russian society after the downfall of communism. The notes and questions were useful to steer our discussion. Hamilton 003
This was a book that was enjoyed by the whole group - an uncommon situation! Martin Booth's book impressed us all and the quality of his writing clearly demonstrated his background of extensive world travel and his poetic talents. He managed to weave a story which informed you while entertaining you at the same time. The themes and the contexts he chose were fascinating, and allowed him to create unbelievable situations which you can't decide whether or not to believe! Palmerston North 002
Most people found this book thought-provoking and positive, despite the traumatic descriptions of life in the gulag. The importance of friendship and how it can help overcome any adversity, was noted by all. Shurik went from one friendship group in the gulag to another in the village, and both of these groups became his 'family'. The book is recommended by the group. Doubtless Bay 001
We resolved that you can't judge a book by its cover. It's a dreadful cover, but a great story! Thought-provoking. Ashburton
Book was enjoyed by the group. Good discussion.
Book enjoyed by group. Described as a "gentle" story in spite of the difficult inclusion of being in the gulag. We learnt a lot about the working of the prisoners and how they survived - especially mentally. Would recommend it and read it again.
This book was considered a great read by all. We were all impressed with the structure of the book, and the power of strong friendships and kindness that goes with it.
We all loved this book - the episodic style worked really well, and the characterisations of village and gulag people were excellent. It is a story of strength of mind over deprivation - very heart warming.
Our group liked everything about this book except for the cover picture which we all found unpleasant. Thought the language was beautiful, and the story well constructed. 5 out of 5.
This wasn't well received by our group. We thought we'd perhaps overdone it on the grief/memory/wartime theme - three out of our five books for the year. As a result, only one member read the book. We have learned a lot in our first year about what our group doesn't like to read! And that will be useful in future.
This book was very well received by most of our group and got a very positive reaction. Some took a while to get into it properly but then found it a riveting read.
Every member of the group enjoyed this book. We loved the prose, the style and the imagination the writer displayed. We want to read more of the author's work. Best book we have had so far.
A great insight into Russian life and what the Gulags were like!
This has been our most popular read - 9.5! The fact that the work group could show such support and compassion for each other in such shocking circumstances proves the indomitability of the human spirit. The intervening chapters of Shurik's life in Myshkino, which was such a tranquil gentle life, prevented the book from becoming overwhelmingly Stygian.
What a wonderful book! Took a while to engage with it, but then we were hooked. A lesson on forgiveness and acceptance.
Many "put off" initially by cover, but once they got into the book all rated it highly. Redemptive book about friendship, love and finding family in different forms. Loved the characters. Beautiful descriptive pieces describing the village and Shurik's "garden", in contrast to the stark, plain descriptions of the mines and the frozen gulag.
Universal approval of this book. Beautifully written.
Universally liked by those that read it. A compelling well told story that pulls you in from the beginning. Informative, heartwarming and chilling all in the one book. A great read.
In spite of reluctance to even start the book on the part of some (being put off by the cover) all but one of us enjoyed it far more than we expected. We found the setting interesting and felt that the structure of the book, moving back and forward in time, helped to relieve the darkness of the years in the gulag. We loved some of the stories and incidents portrayed and although we found some of the language a little over-descriptive at times, we thought it was generally a well-told story that kept us intrigued and engaged to the end.