“Jazz with Ella is an impressive novel by a skilled writer, Jan DeGrass. Her visits to the USSR in the 1970s have produced a rich story of intrigues within Communist society. She shows what can happen when a group of young Canadians erupt into the lives of ordinary Russians whose destinies are about to change. A richly layered, complex story of love and opportunism.”
– Betty Keller
A Thoroughly Wicked Woman
and Better the Devil You Know
While on a study tour of the Soviet Union during the austere Brezhnev years, Jennifer, a Canadian student, is swept off her feet by a handsome Soviet man, Volodya. He is a discontented jazz pianist whose idol is singer Ella Fitzgerald–for him the symbol of everything mysterious and musical that can happen only in the west. Jennifer visits his haunts–and his bedroom–in Leningrad, and learns that he is under surveillance for consorting with foreigners.
Jennifer refuses Volodya’s desperate pleas to help him defect, and she leaves for the last leg of her trip, a Volga River cruise. But the romance is not over. Despite interference from her fussy professor, Chopyk, and a fierce tour guide, Natasha, Jennifer decides to risk it all.
Jazz with Ella by Jan DeGrass is an absorbing tale of intrigue, containing many moments of passionate lovemaking and spine-tingling suspense. The story, told through the eyes of Russian language students from Canada, provides an interesting and informative insight into the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war Brezhnev period. Jan DeGrass has an obvious deep knowledge of the people and history of 1970s Russia.
– Ben Nuttall-Smith
about the author
Jan DeGrass writes in Gibsons, British Columbia, where she is Arts and Entertainment columnist for the Coast Reporter newspaper, and contributes a regular arts feature to Coast Life magazine. She leads a writing critique group and assists other authors with editing their manuscripts (www.edityourwords.ca). She has received a national award for a business article that contributed to Canadian co-operative literature and was a winner for Best Coverage of the Arts by a national newspaper association. She is the author of a corporate history book and a cookbook, Take Potluck! Her award-winning article, Loving in Leningrad, based on a true experience in the Soviet Union, drew on her university background in Russian language and literature and became the genesis of Jazz with Ella.