Title: The Revolution of Marina M.
Author: Janet Fitch
Published: November 7, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Obtained: Public Library
Synopsis (from Book): St. Petersburg, New Year’s Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers’ rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn.
As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina’s own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman’s journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century.
It took me quite awhile to start this review. It’s not that I’m unsure of whether or not I liked The Revolution of Marina M., but I think I’m just still in awe of how wonderful and inspiring Marina’s story was for me. Honestly, I think this is a top contender for best book of the year for me! There was so much that I loved about Marina and her story, and I want everyone to read it and understand how amazing this book is.
I’m not kidding. Janet Fitch has managed to create the Gone with the Wind of the Russian Revolution, giving the sweeping role of Scarlett O’Hara to Marina Makarova. She is a daughter of the bourgeoisie during a time of rebellion against anyone who has more and won’t give to those who have less.
Janet Fitch has managed to create the Gone with the Wind of the Russian Revolution, giving the sweeping role of Scarlett O’Hara to Marina Makarova.
I have an obsession with Russia. It’s no secret. I’ve made it my mission to read about and learn all I can about Russian culture, especially when it comes to the Russian Revolution during the early 1900s. There is a wealth of information in The Revolution of Marina M. in regards to the ways of life of a regular Russian citizen. From Marina’s pampered lifestyle as the daughter of a political leader to the lives of her lower-class friends and acquaintances, Fitch’s attention to detail knows no bounds.
I visualized Marina as she walked to school everyday during the early days of the Revolution. I got to see her experience the streets of Petrograd, both good neighborhoods and bad ones. She visits bath houses and theaters and even palaces. I can tell by my visualizations of the setting that Fitch didn’t waste any time during the years she spent researching for this novel. It shows on every page.
The Revolution of Marina M. begins with a short prologue, set in 1932. Without going into detail, we catch a small glimpse at the end of Marina’s story, which is extremely helpful since this novel is only the first of two parts. We then cut to January 1916, during the early days when revolution was a mere whisper on the streets of Petrograd. Marina is young, privileged, and a poet. She’s eager to study at the university and write her poetry and enjoys the finer things that her lifestyle offers.
“Why did everyone want a boy to hurry up and become a man, but nobody wanted a girl to become a woman? As if that were the most awful thing that could befall her.” – Marina Makarova
But as the months wear on, she experiences what the workers, the poor, and the women of her beloved city suffer at the hands of the Tsar and his bourgeois regime. Despite being born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she chooses to fight for the revolution because she believes it’s what is right. But her decision has some serious consequences that completely alter her life.
“Revolution. The great brazen sound of the word rang in my bones, resounded in the bell of my chest. It had us hypnotized…” – Marina Makarova
Marina is a difficult character. She’s very likable, but she’s too eager to jump in and do what she thinks is right. This doesn’t give her much time to think about her actions and, therefore, she often regrets her choices. Sometimes these choices lead to life-altering, horrifying experiences. But, in the end, she manages to learn something from them and hopefully she can use this knowledge in the future.
Janet Fitch was the perfect writer to bring Marina and her story to life. Her research must have been overwhelming and meticulous; I was literally transported to Russia in 1917 and felt what it must have been like to be a part of that revolution. She develops Marina over and over again, sometimes even starting at the beginning, because so many of Marina’s experiences change who she is and what she is fighting for.
“And if you’ve read one of my earlier books, you know that the inner lives of women is my great obsession. I’m fascinated by how the decisions a young girl makes, the actions she takes based upon the conclusions she draws, create the woman she becomes. I fiercely admire the strength young women bring to their search for self. My newest novel is the story of one girl’s coming of age during some of the most turbulent times in the modern epoch.” – Janet Fitch, Goodreads Review
I cannot WAIT for the second installment of The Revolution of Marina M. I want to see if she takes everything she’s experienced and learns and grows from it. This was a fascinating story of a woman growing up and finding herself all while surrounded by social change and the transformation of her beloved Russia. Then again, I expected nothing less from Janet Fitch.
Memorable Quote: “Either I was the hunted or I was the prey. There was no third option.”