Panoramic, sweeping, monumental, haunting- a story of four families which spans the centuries of Russia.
Edward Rutherfurd was born in England, in the cathedral city of Salisbury. Educated locally, and at the universities of Cambridge, and Stanford, California, he worked in political research, bookselling and publishing. After numerous attempts to write books and plays, he finally abandoned his career in the book trade in 1983, and returned to his childhood home to write Sarum. Four years later, when the book was published, it became an instant international bestseller, remaining 23 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. Since then he has written seven more bestsellers- Russka, a novel of Russia; London; The Forest, set in England's New Forest which lies close by Sarum; two novels which cover the story of Ireland from the time just before Saint Patrick to the twentieth century; New York; and Paris. His books have been translated into over twenty languages.
With his second sprawling historical novel, Rutherfurd moves from his hometown of Salisbury, England, the site of the bestselling Sarum , to the rich foreign soil of Russia. Though the structure and style mirror that of his first saga, Rutherfurd's close observation of Russia's religious and ethnic diversity give this epic a distinctive flavor. Focusing on the changing fortunes of the small town of Russka and its controlling families, Rutherfurd moves from the tribes of the steppes in the second century A.D. through Cossacks, Tatars, Tsars, revolution and Stalin to touch on a contemporary Russian emigre community near New York City. He weaves an expansive tapestry of Russian lore with a vivid exploration of the historical influences on the modern Russian psyche. Though thoroughly researched, the novel is diminished by occasional soap-opera twists in the narrative thread and present-day phrasing (``pin money,'' ``red tape,'' ``heads or tails'') used in distracting asides to the reader. Literary Guild selection. (Sept.)
In his newest novel, Rutherfurd does for Russia what his last novel, Sarum ( LJ 9/15/87), did for England. Focusing on a small farming community in the Russian heartland between the Dnieper and the Don at the edge of the steppes, he traces its growth through its inhabitants from the first Tatar raid on the Slavs through the Cossacks, aristocrats, and an emigre's recent return. These interconnected lives present a vast panoramic portrait of Russia and its history. However, abundance of historic detail, fascinating though it is, intrudes and overwhelms. Transitions from intertwined stories of succeeding generations are abrupt and the reader longs for more character and plot development. Recommended for devotees of James Michener and Sarum . Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/91.-- Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.
It is a series of ingeniously linked short novels, with a great
deal of history painlessly delievered ... a very good read indeed *
The Times *
Even textured, with just the right amount of spice, it is the literary equivalent of hot cakes * Sunday Telegraph *
Rewarding reading ... an engrossing story. The novel manages to capture and convey the vastness of Mother Russia, her story and her potential * Boston Sunday Herald *
What's impressive about Russka is Edward Rutherfurd's audacity - and his erudition * Washington Post *
Impressive . . . Rutherfurd has indeed embraced all of Russia * The Washington Post *