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At the other end of the spectrum, Count Maximov and his family struggle to maintain harmony amidst a tapestry of deception and debauchery woven by the count's son. The plot twists further when the tsar emancipates 20 million serfs from bondage while the rural gentry's life of privilege and carelessness has taken its final bow and much of Russia's nobility faces possible financial ruin.
Aficionados of historical fiction will be captivated by the lyrical flow of Marlow's intertwining stories of love, loss, courage, and pain against her backdrop of social upheaval. The novel's riddles flow subtly throughout, spurring listeners to ponder where the blame actually lies. In the end, we must tap into our own hearts to navigate the depths and quandaries of the author's perplexing question.
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By Lisa on 05-14-18
Riddles of Russian Life in the 19th Century
This book is an accurately researched look at Russia from the 1840's to the 1860's, including Russia's so-called "emancipation" of the serfs. Each chapter starts out with a Russian riddle, which was such an entertaining part of the book. From childhood, Russians are taught riddles, part of the country's rich linguistic history. Besides the riddles, the author vividly and compassionately depicts the brutal (but hopeful) lives of peasants in a village called Petrovo . Concurrently, the author examines the lives of the wealthy landowners of the Petrovo estate. The chapters alternate between members of the estate family and the villagers, especially the star-crossed love of the peasants, Elizaveta and Feodor. The narrator spoke with a Russian accent and pronunciation of Russian names shows the beauty of the Russian language. I was caught up in both learning about Russia and being drawn into the compelling, complicated lives of both the peasants and landowners. A guide to the characters and locales was helpful.