Rutherfurd, Edward "Russka. The Novel of Russia" - 1991
I have read Edward Rutherfurd's various epic historical stories about Britain, Ireland, Paris, I'm looking forward to all his other books and now it was Russia's turn.
What a book. Like in his other novels, the author did a lot of research which resulted in a superb telling of one country's life and history.
As usual, he describes the lives of four different families and their descendants, beginning in the year 180 and ending almost 2 millennia later in 1992 and thereby telling us the story of this great and vast land that has influenced world history for so long but also was influenced by it. The families include various ethnic, they belong to the serfs and the nobility, so you can have a good look into all kinds of lives. As we get to know the characters, we can get a better understanding about Russian history and politics, going from Genghis Khan over Ivan the Terrible to Peter and Catherine, both the Great, until Lenin and Stalin during the revolution in the 20th century. But we also hear about Russian art, literature, music, everything this country has to offer. I have recently learned that you call these kind of stories "multi-generational sagas". In any case, such an easy way to learn about history. And that is getting more and more important.
It is, of course, also a very chunky book, like all his other novels, 945 pages, wonderfully written, brilliantly composed. There is so much information on those pages, I can't believe he actually finished before reaching 1,000.
Now I need to read "Sarum" and "New York" (and then "China" at the end of the year) after having read all his other novels (see here).
From the back cover:
"The author of the phenomenally successful Sarum: The Novel of England now turns his remarkably vast talents to an even larger canvas.
Spanning 1800 years of Russia's history, people, politics, and culture, this grand saga is as multifaceted as the country itself: harsh yet exotic, proud yet fearful of enemies, steeped in ancient superstitions but always seeking to make its mark on the emerging world.
In Russka, Edward Rutherfurd transforms the epic history of a great civilization into a human story of flesh and blood, boldness and action, chronicling the lives of four families who are divided by ethnicity but united in shaping the destiny of their land."
Find a link to all my reviews on his other novels here.