It is hard to be critical of an author with significant potential but that is the case with Pravda. Edward Docx is a writer with not insignificant talent. One can't read Pravda without recognizing what seems to be a gift for capturing internal monologue. In addition, his ability to detail the complexities of emotional and psychological struggles is evident. Yet, despite these obvious talents, the flaws of Pravda bring down what otherwise could have been an excellent novel.
Overall what comes to mind in reviewing Pravda is the famous quote from Hamlet "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Docx often presents his characters as having worked out some fundamental universal truths about life and most especially relationships. In reality, what they discover is truth for their situations and ultimately themselves alone. The fact that Docx fails to give his characters this narrower but more realistic perspective often results in the novel's, as well as the characters', having the air of pretentiousness. Both the novel and the characters seem to take themselves much too seriously. The seeming universal scope of the presented insights begins, after much reading, to resemble a cocktail party conversation or the much-maligned self-help magazine.
The pretentiousness of the characters and their insights often spills over into the prose itself. It is not unfair to say that it is, at times, overheated to the point of distraction. One wonders if a better editor or a more open relationship with the existing editor would have prevented these excesses from reaching print.
It would be easy, and perhaps not inaccurate, to attribute these excesses to the authors age and lack of life experience. One often has the feeling in reading the book that the author does not have sufficient life experience with the theme being discussed and thus falls back into emotional overstatement to compensate. Another possible indication of a paucity of relevant life experience comes in the character of Nicholas. We are told the character is in his early sixties. Yet the entire psychological (not to mention physiological) portrait is more akin to a man in his eighties. One is left to conclude that the author is not really familiar with the internal psychological landscape of people over fifty.
Lastly, there are more issues that good editing should have brought to light. A major character, Arkady Artamenkov, is initially presented in some depth. Yet, as the novel closes he is reduced to a prop with no exploration of his development as a result of events. We must assume that Arkady made some significant psychological adjustments off stage somewhere. In fact the entire ending of the novel seems hasty. After what has been at times painful introspection, the characters in the end reach resolution easily in a few dialogues. Was there some need to rush to what in many respects seems a formulaic ending?
In conclusion, what could have been an excellent thoughtful novel by an obviously talented author is reduced to a tiring story of self-absorbed, pretentious and ultimately whiny young people. Docx needs more life experience, more humility, and better editing.