Each month we'll give you a book we recommend reading before your trip. If you love history, Russia is ripe for discovering if you haven't already.
This month's book is "Russka" by Edward Rutherford. The summary below is from Bookrags.com This is a large book and will give you a great background for the places we'll visit on the cruise.
THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
Spanning 1800 years of Russia's history, people, poltics, and culture, Edward Rurtherford, author of the phenomenally successful SARUM: THE NOVEL OF ENGLAND, tells a grand saga that is as multifaceted as Russia itself. Here is a story of a great civilization made human, played out through the lives of four families who are divided by ethnicity but united in shaping the destiny of their land.
"Rutherford's RUSSKA succeeds....[He] can take his place among an elite cadre of chroniclers such as Harold Lamb, Maurice Hindus and Henri Troyat."
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Russka: The Novel of Russia Summary & Study Guide Description
Russka, by Edward Rutherford, is the story of eighteen hundred years of Russian history. He includes the story of the history of the people and the country along with the politics and culture. The focal point of the book is the small village of Russka, located in the Russian heartland, from its beginnings until modern times. Most of the main characters, such as the Bobrovs, Suvorins, Karpenkos and Romanovs trace their roots to the small village, even though they move around the country.
The book begins in primitive times with a small group of families living in huts. There are different tribes, with the Alans being the greatest of the warriors. These people become the leaders of Kiev and other cities. Their structure of government is based on succession passing from brother to brother and not from father to son. The result is a great deal of instability. The fact that there is no one strong central authority makes the country of Ru's susceptible to takeover from the outside. This is how the Mongols or Tatars are able to conquer the country in these years in the thirteenth century. The peasant woman Yanka flees from the Tatars. She is the ancestor of the Ivanovs.
By the middle of the sixteenth century, Moscow has become a strong city with a tsar that has conquered other cities. Tsar Ivan is fighting to throw out the Tatars, but the Tatars have a working relationship with the landowners and merchants, which make this a difficult task. Boris Bobrov, a young landowner, is a strong supporter of the tsar. The Cossacks are instrumental in the fight against the Tatars. One of them is Andrei Karpenko.
As the village of Russka develops over the years, an industrious serf, named Ivan Suvorin, begins a cloth business in the nineteenth century. The Suvorins have problems with the landowning Bobrovs over the years, but their cloth factories are very successful. The Suvorins finally gain their freedom from the Bobrovs and become very wealthy
industrialists. At the time of the revolution, Vladimir is one of the wealthiest men in Russia.
Throughout Russian history, the peasants were an oppressed class. Even though the laws changed regarding their status, they remain oppressed, yet when the revolution begins, it takes place in St. Petersburg and Moscow and not in the countryside.
Russka looks at the development of the country and the interaction of these four families and how they cope with the various situations. There are conspiracies, murders and romance over the years. During the revolution, Nicolai Bobrov is a member of the duma. When he becomes suspect by the Cheka, Vladimir Suvorin, who loses all of his wealth, helps him escape to Finland and soon follows. After the fall of the Soviet regime, two men meet at a trade fair. When Paul Bobrov travels to Moscow, he and Sergei Romanov visit the village of Russka.
The reader will enjoy this lengthy book. It is written in a style that results in quick and easy reading and will hold the reader's interest.