Sergei Ovsiannikov
Bloomsbury

Journey to Freedom 32

Sergei Ovsiannikov was imprisoned in Soviet Russia as young soldier and, alone in a cell, had to face fear head-on. When all other supports were stripped away, he had an encounter with a God he knew nothing of. Inspired by his experience, this book contains a series of reflections on what it means to be truly free.

Ovsiannikov became an Orthodox priest and writes in a philosophical style with liberal references to the Bible, other authors and his own Christian tradition. There are some examples from his life, but it would have been interesting to hear more of the experiences that led up to him finding faith; to this he only devotes one short chapter.

The author’s thoughts on freedom are wise and thought-provoking, but not easily accessible. The translators have done their best, and subheadings and section breaks help the reader to focus. However, the book is still hard going, and probably best savoured slowly, through short daily readings.

Despite section headings such as ‘Finding Yourself’, Ovsiannikov himself states: “in this book you will not find an answer that can be simply applied to your situation”. What he does is provide material for the journey, if you have the time and motivation to travel it.

3 out of 5 stars