By Julia Underwood
Sometime last year I read an article about the Russian Revolution and it struck me how much the dispossessed Russians lost in the struggle. They often fled the country with nothing and looked forward to the bleak prospect of an uncertain future, rather like the refugees of today.
As 2017 marks the centenary of the turmoil of the revolution, I decided to write a novel about it. This involved weeks of research, which I found fascinating and enlightening.
My invented family, the Cookes, with five children, an English patriarch and Russian Mama, a Russian nanny, and an English governess, live in a large mansion in St.Petersburg, manned by a small army of servants. Their life takes them from a whirl of luxury to poverty and near-starvation in those turbulent times until they are free to flee the country.
The terrible loss of life during the Great War, the bloody revolution and the brutal Civil War that followed, brought violent disruption to all levels of Russian society. After the overthrow of the once-loved Tsar, a man flawed by the constraints of history and his perception of his autocratic role, the population of the vast country were doomed to a lifetime of upheaval. An incompetent government, powerless to withstand the demands of the louder voices of the Bolsheviks, simply surrendered to their fate. The results were tragic for everyone and led to decades of disintegration and isolation.
Although my novel takes the form of a romantic history, I hope it illustrates the spirit of the people involved and their determination to survive against the odds.
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