Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 13, 2019

Liberation Square (2019), by Gareth Rubin

I was in the mood for something frivolous after plodding through Book 3 of Kristin Lavransdatter, and I succumbed to impulse buying when I saw this book on the stands in the bookshop at Palmerston North.

The premise, an alternative history of postwar Britain, could have worked really well. This is the blurb:

1952. Soviet troops control British streets

After the disastrous failure of D-Day, Britain is occupied by Nazi Germany, and only rescued by Russian soldiers arriving from the east and Americans from the west. The two superpowers divide the nation between them, a wall running through London like a scar.

When Jane Cawson calls into her husband’s medical practice and detects the perfume worn by his former wife, Lorelei, star of propaganda films for the new Marxist regime, she fears what is between them. But when Jane rushes to confront them, she finds herself instead caught up in the glamorous actress’s death.

Nick is soon arrested for murder. Desperate to clear his name, Jane must risk the attention of the brutal secret police as she follows a trail of corruption right to the highest levels of the state.

And she might find she never really knew her husband at all.

But alas, it’s a very silly book.  The plot is an awful muddle of completely unbelievable events, tangled into a plot that’s hard to follow (if, that is, the reader can be bothered to invest time in trying).  In a book with multiple flaws, the biggest one is that Rubin chose to narrate the book through a female character, and he doesn’t seem to have any idea about how women think and behave.

I came to the conclusion that the author wrote it because he was a bit alarmed by the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘democratic socialism’ and wanted to show his idealistic adherents what they would be letting themselves in for.  The central character Jane believes the Soviet rhetoric about a fairer society with better housing, free health care and education, but as the plot progresses and she witnesses the privileges, the corruption, and the excessive power that the Soviet leadership has, lo! she realises that it’s not a utopia after all.

I left the book in the airport lounge at Napier.

Author: Gareth Rubin
Title: Liberation Square
Publisher: Michael Joseph, 2019
ISBN: 9780718187101
Purchased from Paper Plus, Palmerston North, New Zealand


  1. Oh dear. Quite relieved that I’ve jettisoned this from the TBR pile in a recent ruthless clear-out.


    • What’s annoying, is that it could have been great. A wasted opportunity.


  2. A book I don’t have to add to my reading list ;-)


  3. Men don’t have any idea how women think or behave. The really dangerous male authors are those whose female protagonists are half way believable.


    • In this case I don’t think it’s dangerous, it just lacks credibility. This author seems to have bought the myth that there were no exceptions to the stoicism with which the Brits endured the Blitz and losing so many friends and family in WW2, and so her female character has zilch empathy for her stepdaughter whose mother has just been murdered. It’s a generalisation of course, but women tend to be quite good at empathy when grief is involved, and they would tend not to expect a girl who’s suffered a grievous loss to soldier on, go out with her friends and go straight back to school and not need any comforting when her father is arrested for the murder!


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: