REVIEW: The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch

It’s been ten long years since the talented Janet Fitch gave us a work of fiction to read so I immediately snatched up a copy of her recently released The Revolution of Marina M. Then it took me almost all of January to read it. Unlike her other books, I just couldn’t fall into this one.

The novel starts out with Marina in current day California and she begins to tell the story of how she got there, taking us back to pre-revolution St. Petersburg, Russia where she was a teenage poet of bourgeois parents.

Her life consists of poetry, music, school and dances. She harbors a secret crush on her older brother’s friend Kolya. She meets the politically active Varvara and begins to wake up to the world outside her own.

She follows Varvara in her Bolshevik work, protesting the government, rallying the workers, even spying on her own father. She begins a passionate affair with Kolya. She falls in love with a fellow poet, Genya.

Varvara turns her world upside when she reveals the spying to Marina’s father and she is thrown out of the house. She moves in with Genya and his gang of poets. For a time she is happy, extremely poor, but happy. Alas the revolution is moving like a steam roller and life is getting harder and harder for the citizens of St. Petersburg.

Kolya returns and she resumes her affair, breaking Genya’s heart, but he takes her back. It’s her mother’s presence that pushes Genya over the edge and she is once again thrown out of her home.

She ends up in the hands of a corrupt madman and barely escapes with her life. Kolya appears once again, but not for long, and she is soon living in a commune of young people in the country. In the end she will escape them as well, but the non-ending tells us there will be at least one more book.

The book is well researched and details quite a bit about the Russian Revolution from differing points of view as well as aptly painting the cityscape of St. Petersburg. It easily took me back to the streets and sights of this beloved city.

The characters are well developed and clearly defined. Marina is easy to sympathize with and her need to understand both sides of the issues is a great part of the book, perhaps the best part, as is her continued growth and strength. She may not always make the best choices, but she continuously learns from them and is stronger the next time, going from privileged young girl to self-sufficient young woman. The supporting characters play their parts in getting her there and are equally well developed.

The book is broken into multiple parts based on time periods and is about 800 pages long. It feels too long at points. You know Marina is going to be fine because she is telling the story from the present so the tension doesn’t build as much as it would without that insight. I didn’t care for the last section in the Ionia commune. Perhaps Fitch was trying to touch on the superstition and mystic nature of Russia, but to me that part of Russia is steeped in its history and traditions, not a hippy commune that read more like Haight-Ashbury.

Fitch is an excellent writer and the novel is a good read, just maybe too long and too slow in parts for my January state of mind. I’m not at all inspired to read the sequel.

√ a book set in a country that fascinates you – PopSugar

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24 in 48: Hour 36 Challenge

How do you arrange your shelves? First and last book on my fiction shelves…

Fiction is arranged geographically by author’s nationality. Non-fiction is on its own shelf in a different room and arranged by subject matter.

Status update: 24 hours and 54 minutes of reading. Still listening to Mockingbird, but  calling it a night.

Thanks again to our hosts. Best of luck to those readers in earlier time zones. You got this!

24 in 48: Hour 12 Challenge

The most intriguing first line in your 24in48 reads:

“Rocking on the razor-musseled bay, lulled by the sleepy toll of buoy bells, the music of rigging, the eloquent stanzas of the waves, I wait for news from the sea.”

~ The Revolution of Marina M.

Status Update: 9 hours of reading. Finished The Golden Notebook – a five star thought-provoking read – and am about halfway through TRMM.

 

 

 

 

24 in 48: Hour 6 Challenge

What’s the oldest children’s book you have, or a book you’ve held onto since your childhood?

When Daddy Was A Little Boy by Alexander Raskin

My parents went to the World’s Fair while my brothers and I stayed with my grandmother. The book was what they brought back as my gift. I don’t remember what my brothers got. Always a daddy’s girl, I loved my book. Although I remember many, many wonderful books from my childhood, it is the only one I kept.whendaddywasalittleboy

24 in 48 Kickoff

Good morning readers!

It’s a balmy -7 here so a perfect day to snuggle in for long haul reading. Cappuccino in hand, this 800 page tome…

78CB4DBC-7F55-411D-8F8F-D39E37B1F38Dand The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing on audiobook when I just can’t sit any more.

Thank you Rachel, Kerry and Kristen for hosting and the sure to be fun challenges.

Happy reading all! And good luck!