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The Road to Donetsk by Diane Chandler

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Winner of The People's Book Prize for Fiction 2016.

A gritty love story that brings Ukraine vividly to life: from the beautiful lilac-filled city of Kiev and the ski runs of the Carpathians to the dangerous depths of the Donetsk coalmines and the chilling ghost town of Chernobyl


The Road to Donetsk by Diane Chandler

It is 1994 and an idealistic Vanessa Parker enters the world of international aid, bringing with her youth and passion to do good in the ‘Wild East’ of Ukraine after the sudden collapse of communism. The country and its people completely win her heart. As does Dan, a jaded American Deputy Bureau Chief of USAID.

Older, wiser, Dan laughs at Vanessa’s naivety. Corruption is rife. The mind-set of the Ukrainian people is at times impenetrable. Her efforts to coordinate millions of dollars worth of aid are met with ridicule, whilst the British aid experts throw up smoke screens. At times thwarted, Vanessa’s determination to help is set when she meets the resourceful, magnificent wives of a Donetsk mining village threatened with pit closures.

But then Dan springs a bolt from the blue, which throws her into turmoil...

In a world where millions of dollars can either wash away in a moment’s corruption, or turn around the lives of the neediest, Vanessa is then forced to pit her own naive desire to make a difference against the chaos of a country and people in transition.


“A touching love story that illuminates the aid business. Compelling and enjoyable.” CLARE SHORT (former Secretary of State for International Development).

“Lifts the lid on aid.” LYNN CURTIS, literary consultant

About the Author

Diane Chandler was born and bred in Derby, England. After graduating in Modern Languages, she worked at the European Commission in Brussels for several years. There, she managed European social regeneration programmes in coal and steel regions, and then overseas aid programmes in Ukraine just after the fall of communism. Ukraine soon worked its way into her heart, and she travelled there extensively. Back in London, when Diane married and her daughter was born, she was able to pursue her passion for writing in those few hours she could snatch, and she chose Ukraine as a setting. The Road to Donetsk is her first novel. Her second, Moondance, about a career woman going through the trials of IVF, will be published in November.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Diane Chandler

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Literary Fiction
Family Drama
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