Russian Dolls weaves in and out of the real and imaginary worlds of Wylie, a struggling author and self-proclaimed “unreliable narrator”, as he finds and then loses his muse, Christie, in their shared home - aptly named the “Breathing Castle” - in East Vancouver. Woven into the story of their relationship are Wylie’s short stories - at once bold, humorous, whimsical and reflective. The mood of the stories ranges from good to bad to worse, depending on his relationship with his muse at the time.
Meanwhile, the stories Christie chooses to tell Wylie about her past are consistently captivating, but are also dark and dangerously inconsistent. Are her stories true? Or is the enticing but erratic Christie simply the better storyteller of the two?
Kinsella remains as thought-provoking and engaging as ever. In Russian Dolls he creates a panorama of dozens of new characters, all struggling to survive at the fringes of modern life, while at the same time he creates an intimate portrait of a man, his typewriter, his lover and his passion.