Marija Popa, the enigmatic wife of an overthrown sadistic and deranged dictator, is standing trial with a possible death sentence as the outcome, as it is considered she had been compliant with his diabolical crimes against the people of the now impoverished Yanussia.
She is firm in her innocence; she is not her husband. Former communist Eastern European country, Yanussia is divided. There are those who blindly support the stunning, glamorous Marija as the ‘Mother of the Nation”, while others are demanding her blood.
In 1993 Laura Lazarescu’s parents fled the oppressive regime of Constantin Popa, when she was a child. She returns to her country of birth against her parents’ wishes, to defend Marija as part of the English defense team. The last thing her parents want is for Laura to defend Marija Popa. It soon becomes clear that her parents’ lives were entangled with those of the dictatorship; she is desperate to find out what happened to them.
Laura and her colleagues are accommodated in Marija’s opulent home, where she is under house arrest. They can’t leave the grounds without an escort which hampers their ability to build a successful defense case. There is a suffocating atmosphere in the house; it is as if the building itself has secrets. It isn’t long before Laura is enticed into the spider’s web of the manipulative Marija: the little mother.
Readers who enjoy slow-burner thrillers and historical fiction will definitely enjoy The Dictator’s Wife. Debut author Freya Berry, by carefully researching many eastern European countries and spending time in them, has created a gripping and tense read which encourages the reader to really reflect on the structures of power and how easily it can be abused.
|Publisher||Hachette Australia. Imprint Headline Review.|