This book reads like a non-fiction book but disguised as fiction. It might seem like a compliment, but it's not. The more I read the more annoyed I be...moreThis book reads like a non-fiction book but disguised as fiction. It might seem like a compliment, but it's not. The more I read the more annoyed I became. There wasn't the fictional pizazz in between all of the fake newspaper accounts from the early 20th century to really carry forth an exciting book. No, this was dull. I would rather have read the real truth than a convoluted fake half-truth. At least not in this form.
What I mean is, the book was too thin on plot. It seemed more concerned about checking all the boxes of cultural references and movements from the last few decades. It really needed more character development, than step by step what Jack did today. Sadly, I think the highlight of the book was a quote from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
On the other hand, I'm quite sympathetic to the topics discussed so at least there's that. I did rate the book better just for that aspect. You really don't see a lot of novels tackling old union activists or free speech fights as the main subject. In the end, it felt a little too much like preaching to the choir. I doubt the book will change anyone's political mind, the "big bosses" aren't suddenly going to become fierce union labor activists. I was hoping for something just a little more.
I read everything except last story. These stories are about pioneer women by a 19th century author. The story, The New Penelope is on a woman's trip...moreI read everything except last story. These stories are about pioneer women by a 19th century author. The story, The New Penelope is on a woman's trip west by wagon train. Other stories deal with journeys by rail, wifehood and widowhood. Included is a biography of the author. (less)
This novel is an exploration into the opposing sides in the Russian Revolution. The story is framed by Pavel reminiscing, confiding to a priest that o...moreThis novel is an exploration into the opposing sides in the Russian Revolution. The story is framed by Pavel reminiscing, confiding to a priest that on Grand Duchess Elisavyeta Romanov's (Ella) last days the two of them exchanged their stories. This becomes the major portion of the book, alternating between Pavel and Ella.
The historical record was used as much as possible, but this is a work of fiction. Pavel is certainly fictional, but Ella did exist and the story was mostly told from her point of view. What is most interesting about this royalist was that after her husband, the Grand Duke Sergei of Moscow was killed, she sold everything, built a nunnery, becoming a nun herself and runs it as abess. Ella dedicated herself to religion as well as the poor and sick, casting aside all the riches she owned. This actually isn't quite the turn around that it may seem, as when Ella was growing up in Germany her Protestant English mother insisted on her daughters caring for the poor and sick as part of their duties.
This novel is about the Russian Revolution, so times are not peaceful. Despite the problems, Ella refuses return to her home country Germany, and many close her to urge her to do so. She adopted Russia as her home and remains no matter what harm would come to her. The people call her horrible names, many lies are told about her particularly during WWI when Germany and Russia are enemies. Ella sees that she eventually will be arrested, and most likely killed for being a royal, but that does not dissuade her from staying. An intriguing book, but on occasion a bit too much on specific gory details.
I do wonder how much fact was given to Pavel's side of the story. Pavel is to provide the reasons behind the revolution, the way it happened, which in this book is by manipulating the masses with lies, to incite further protests, riots and strikes. I would hope that with so much actual fact in the story side of the Grand Duchess that the same care went onto the other, but without doing the actual research I am only hopeful. In the end I would have liked to have more of Pavel's side of the story, more of what his life was really like, instead of the fleeting moments of plotting to kill someone to further aid the revolution's cause. I am left feeling this is mainly a one sided story, despite the author’s attempt to give us both. (less)
I kept thinking that Mr. Emerson’s wife, Lydia or Lidian, held herself back. She tended to the household duties much too readily. I truly did not unde...moreI kept thinking that Mr. Emerson’s wife, Lydia or Lidian, held herself back. She tended to the household duties much too readily. I truly did not understand her motivations for what she did (not following her own intellectual pursuits) and how she would pick fights with her husband, and not really attempting a rational talk with him at any point. I know I'm a "modern" women now speaking about an era past, but she was a strong woman. The book kept close to facts as I know, but of course this was largely imaginary. Given that Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau are known as great writers, the woman within that triangle is an interesting plot. The book was good, and fairly well written, but frustrating as well. (less)