In the wake of factory closings and his beloved wife's death, Lev makes his way from Eastern Europe to London, seeking work to support his mother and his little daughter. After a spell of homelessness, he finds a job in the kitchen of a posh restaurant and a room in the house of an appealing Irishman who has already lost his family. Never mind that Lev must sleep in a bunk bed surrounded by plastic toyshe has found a friend and shelter. However constricted his life in England remains, he compensates by daydreaming of home, by having an affair with a younger restaurant worker, and by trading gossip and ambitions via cell phone with his hilarious friend Rudi, who, dreaming of the wealthy West, lives largely for his battered Chevrolet.
Homesickness dogs Lev, not only for nostalgic reasons, but because he doesn't belong, body or soul, to his new countrybut can he really go home again? Rose Tremain's prodigious talents as a prose writer are on full display in THE ROAD HOME, and her novel never loses sight of what is truly important in the lives we lead.
Journeys like Lev's are very much a part of Britain's present reality, with discussion of the Eastern European invasion appearing all over. But Tremain elevates the subject beyond its outlines by making Lev not a statistic or a caricature or the standard-bearer of a trend but simply a manfully embodied, his ignoble and noble acts presented without exaggeration, without excessive praise or condemnation…A less disciplined and agile author might have been tempted to ease Lev's transition from daydreamer to doer. Or she might have jollied Lev into a toque at London's River Café and set Rudi up as a chauffeur on Belisha Road. But Rose Tremain is in the business of inventing not so much fantasies as alternate realities.