It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Vera are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating soup made of wallpaper, with the occasional luxury of a dead rat. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could now provide a safe haven, provided Mikhail can navigate the perils of a portrait commission from one of Stalin’s colonels.

Nearly forty years later, Galina herself is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Academy. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she embarks upon that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and Galina’s familiar world changes out of all recognition.

Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist world, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the glitz and bling of 21st-century St Petersburg. Galina’s story is at once a compelling page-turner and an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia.

E-book available worldwide.

Paperback available in the USA and UK.

*I receive a small percentage of the profits on purchases made on my page.

  • mollygartland

A new platform for selling books has launched onto the UK market just in time for Christmas and Lockdown 2.0. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to This is a site with an innovative strategy and the lofty aim of taking on The Evil Empire that is Amazon (gasp!). 75% of profits generated on are shared out to independent bookshops, publications, authors and other influencers who make up the thriving book industry. Learn more about their ethos here.

I have set up a shop and have included several lists of recommended books. When a purchase is made via my lists, I receive a small percentage of the profit. I have started with two lists: If you liked The Girl from the Hermitage, you might like..... and a list of books I used in my research. And you can be sure a Favourite Reads of 2020 will follow in due course.

You can browse my shop here

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  • mollygartland

Reading has been a welcome escape over the lockdown. And I have a regular habit of plugging into a podcast for my walk around beautiful Bushy Park. Here is a roundup of some of my reading and listening highlights.

Reading (Debuts marked with *)

*We Are Animals-Tim Ewin

I found it very difficult to focus and read at the beginning of the lockdown. I chose this one to get me back into it and it worked. I don’t usually read comedy but this was exactly what I needed at that point in time.

*People Like Us-Louise Fein

*Island Child-Molly Aiken

*This Lovely City-Louise Hare

The Hiding Game-Naomi Wood

*Leonard and Hungry Paul-Ronan Hessian

The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme-Andrei Makine

Silver Sparrow-Tayari Jones

Just finished this one and loved it. Clever storytelling, vivid characters. Brilliant. If I had to choose a favourite from this list, I think this would be favourite.

Weather-Jenny Offill

American Dirt-Jeanine Cummins

Hamnet-Maggie O’Farrell

Nightingale Point-Luan Goldie

The Street-Ann Petry

Published in 1946, this is a great book from a writer who should be better known. The Street sold more than a million copies, which is an incredible achievement now, much less in 1946! She was the first for African American woman to do so. Fascinating discussion about her in one of the podcasts I mention below.

Doninicana-Angie Cruz

Yellow Crocus and Golden Poppies-Laila Ibrahim

The Painted Room-Lounis Tidar

Villa America-Liza Klassmann

The Dutch House-Ann Patchett

Favourite Podcasts

BBC More or Less-I find comfort in a rational discussion of statistics of the day.

Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast-(Series 2, Episode 15 has a discussion about Petry and interview with her daughter)

Winds of Change (Spotify)-Investigation into CIA link to The Scorpians. Starts a bit slow but loved it.

Grounded with Louis Theroux

Loved the BBC adaptations of Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams) and Girl, Woman, Other (Bernadine Evaristo)

Dolly Parton’s America (Actually, I listened to this before lockdown, but have to include it because I loved it.)

And here is a sample of some of my non-fiction reading

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  • mollygartland

I am a member of the Debut Author 2020 Facebook group. There are about 50 authors in the group and as the name suggests, we all have books being published in 2020. Due to COVID, most of us are launching our books in very different ways than we originally planned. Many have had promotional plans cancelled and launch dates postponed. The group has been very supportive throughout the COVID crisis and I am very glad to be part of it.

In an effort of finding new ways to promote our books and launch them into the world, we have organised panel discussions for The Motherload Bookclub Facebook group. I’m not sure about my fellow panellists but this was the first time I participated in such a discussion. I think it went ok but I really should scowl less, it is giving me wrinkles.

There are some great books here. I’ve already downloaded one of them. For a complete list of Debut 2020 books, have a look at my first blog post “Books in the Time of Corona”.

If you missed the original airing, you can watch the discussion here:

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Originally from Michigan, Molly Gartland worked in Moscow from 1994 to 2000 and has been fascinated by Russian culture ever since.

She has an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University, Twickenham and lives in London.

The manuscript for her debut novel The Girl from the Hermitage was shortlisted for the Impress Prize and longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition, the Bath Novel Award and Grindstone Novel Award.




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