Title: Who Is to Blame?
Author: Jane Marlow
Publisher: River Grove Books
Publish Date: October 18, 2016
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Who is to Blame?
is a historical saga of two families—one born of noble heritage and the
other bound as serfs to the noble’s household. Set during the mid-1800s
in the vast grainfields of Russia, Who Is to Blame? follows the
lives of two star-crossed serfs, Elizaveta and Feodor, torn apart by
their own families and the Church while simultaneously trapped in the
inhumane life of poverty to which they were born.
At the other
end of the spectrum, Count Maximov and his family struggle to maintain
harmony amidst a tapestry of deception and debauchery woven by the
Count’s son. The plot twists further when the Tsar emancipates twenty
million serfs from bondage as the rural gentry’s life of privilege and
carelessness takes its final bow, and much of Russia’s nobility faces
possible financial ruin.
The novel’s riddles flow subtly
throughout, spurring readers to ponder where the blame actually lies. In
the end, we must tap into our own hearts to navigate the depths and
quandaries of the author’s perplexing question."
My Two Cents:
"Who is to Blame?" is the story of serfs who work the land and nobles who direct the work in Russia in the mid to late 1800s. I am absolutely fascinated by Russian history and always find myself wishing that I could find more historical fiction set in Russia. The history is so rich with good fodder for stories as we can see in this book.
This book has a huge cast and is split in chapters by the serfs and the nobles. We get to see how each side sees life differently and how they affected by the rapid changes happening throughout the country. On the serf side, the narrative focuses largely on Elizaveta, who is my favorite character and one of the characters that we get to know best throughout the story. She works hard and has dreams of marrying her true love; however, that is not to be. Her family gets to choose the course for her, including getting married to a husband who is not content to let her express any of her own free will.
On the noble side, we see the struggles of Count Maximov, who is trying to balance both running his family and the changing political climate where his role as a noble is slowly leaking power. It was fascinating to read about the interactions between the serfs and the nobles and how they work with and against each other. Class is such an interesting topic here in how it affects what people are able to do or not to do. I loved reading about how the characters operated in these confines.
The writing of the book was very good. I loved the way that the author was able to weave in a lot of detail to explain the time and place that the story falls in. It's important detail and makes for a very rich collection of story lines. I was so interested in a lot of the detail that I found myself wanting more, not because there was a lack of detail but because the wealth of detail was so good that I did not want the book to end! This is a fantastic debut!