A Simple Scale
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 POLARI PRIZE
‘Beautifully told and beautifully written’ – Philip Reeve (author of Mortal Engines)
‘An impressive and compelling work, entirely original’ – New Welsh Review
‘Masterly interweaving of narratives, time periods and places, David Llewellyn’s A Simple Scale is a symphony of mysteries and passions.’ – Paul Smith
‘A Simple Scale is a work of self-assured persuasive power, and the resounding artistic statement of a writer who has truly arrived. It is bold, it is brave, and it is the real deal.’ – Wales Arts Review
‘A compelling and suspenseful novel’ – Buzz Magazine
A single piece of music starts a story that takes us from Soviet Russia and McCarthyite Hollywood to post-9/11 New York. A single piece of music, and two composers – one American, the other Soviet – but which of them wrote it? How did their lives cross? How were their fortunes shaped by history, and what were the consequences for those they loved?
A young Russian, Pavel Grekov, arrives in New York in the October of 2001, and accuses ageing TV composer Sol Conrad of plagiarising a work by his grandfather, Sergey. Conrad’s young PA Natalie is determined to defend her boss, but as she digs deeper she discovers worlds she barely knew about – the labour camps of Siberia, the “Red Scare” of 1950s Hollywood, government oppression, and the plight of gay men in the USA and USSR of the mid-20th Century.
Natalie, Sol and Sergey’s stories range across decades and continents, and A Simple Scale moves through narratives of love, death, deceit, the secret police, atom bombs, Classical music and the last days of Hollywood’s “Golden Age”. In a dramatic conclusion, the past and present catches up with them, as the secrecies and betrayals of Sol and Sergey’s lives inform events in 2001, when history is just about to repeat itself.
Rich in detail and atmosphere, David Llewellyn explores the points at which the personal and political meet. Throughout, his depiction of ’30s Leningrad, ’50s California and post-9/11 New York is only too believable.
David joined us for the Seren Stay-at-Home Series to discuss A Simple Scale with Nemonie Craven Roderick and actor Samuel West also joined us to read from the book. Watch the event in full on our Youtube channel.