The official press date for The Valley of Unknowing isn't until the 19th April; so I was quite surprised to find a review in last Saturday's edition of The Times. The reviewer is the distinguished journalist Peter Millar, who, as well as being a successful novelist and historian, reported from all over Eastern Europe for Reuters and for a range of British broadsheets throughout the 1980s. (In East Germany he earned the distinction of being arrested by the secret police and deported). Had I known in advance that such an authority was to pronounce on The Valley, I might not have slept too well. Fortunately, I didn't.
In any case, the review is a generous one by any standards, calling the book 'remarkable', and praising its authenticity (for which my wife Uta, her family and friends can take much of the credit). It concludes like this:
"Having lived in East Germany, I am astonished by Sington's pitch perfect recreation of that society, from the daily shortages to the veil of suspicion that shrouded all dealings with anyone other than close friends, and the hypocrisy of the fraudulent socio-political game almost everyone was forced to play... Build[ing] towards a relentless climax, this is a brilliant, evocative and accurate novel which turns a love story and a chronicle of human weakness and self-deception into a gripping, hard-nosed authentic thriller."