This is a lovely little book. Crowley is the author of a handful of widely acclaimed novels usually shelved in the fantasy section of the book store. This novel will probably suffer for that genre-ghetto effect. It is completely a literary mainstream work distinguished mainly by the fact that it's better written than most. (IMNSHO ;-)
Christa Malone is a young woman just entering college in the early 1960s. She has been recognized for some poetry she wrote in high school, so when she discovers that Innokenti Falin, a defected Russian poet is teaching at her college, she takes his class. The book follows the evolution of their relationship set against the turbulent political environment of the time. The plot is as nuanced as real life, and populated with interesting minor characters. An extremely satisfying work.