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A Partial History of Lost Causes: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Jennifer DuBois

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2903038,756 (3.85)22
Member:reluctantm
Title:A Partial History of Lost Causes: A Novel
Authors:Jennifer DuBois
Info:Dial Press Trade Paperback (2012), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, read in 2013
Rating:***
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A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer duBois

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
It is hard to process that this is the debut work of an author. She has taken what is traditionally been a heavy involved subject, life in Russia and created a dirge to the Cold War era, embracing the “interminable stretch of a Russian winter” evoking the cold and dark weather and showing life in Eastern Europe as Dostoyevsky did. Her mind pictures are dramatic, each paragraph as if a postcard into the sole of her characters.
She takes the well-worn subject of Russia’s mastery of modern-day chess, creates a character steeped in the game, Aleksandr and shows us how someone of meager beginnings can build a protected empire through the country’s one-upmanship with America for personal gain and advance through the corrupt political system to mount a run at the presidency against Putin in a quixotic and valiant attempt.
Irina, an American student who was brought up playing chess with her father, and is now preparing to her life to Huntington’s disease, just as her father had done takes on her own impossible dream, and meet the chess-player that her father had sent letters to, and in a role of finding purpose in her life leaves everything behind to chase her lost cause.
Their paths tangle and mesh in the most highly improbable fashion and both help form a lasting impression on each other’s fate as well as Russia itself. An improbable tale of endurance and love that will guide the reader down a path of unrequited expectation.
( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
It is hard to process that this is the debut work of an author. She has taken what is traditionally been a heavy involved subject, life in Russia and created a dirge to the Cold War era, embracing the “interminable stretch of a Russian winter” evoking the cold and dark weather and showing life in Eastern Europe as Dostoyevsky did. Her mind pictures are dramatic, each paragraph as if a postcard into the sole of her characters.
She takes the well-worn subject of Russia’s mastery of modern-day chess, creates a character steeped in the game, Aleksandr and shows us how someone of meager beginnings can build a protected empire through the country’s one-upmanship with America for personal gain and advance through the corrupt political system to mount a run at the presidency against Putin in a quixotic and valiant attempt.
Irina, an American student who was brought up playing chess with her father, and is now preparing to her life to Huntington’s disease, just as her father had done takes on her own impossible dream, and meet the chess-player that her father had sent letters to, and in a role of finding purpose in her life leaves everything behind to chase her lost cause.
Their paths tangle and mesh in the most highly improbable fashion and both help form a lasting impression on each other’s fate as well as Russia itself. An improbable tale of endurance and love that will guide the reader down a path of unrequited expectation.
( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
Today chess is often associated with old men in woolen sweaters who lived and loved in the 1940’s. What was once thought of as a prestigious game, is now considered more of a respectable hobby. The computer has replaced the brain as the quickest calculating machine, leaving many games like chess in its quake. This book is about two people and how their relationship with chess has brought them together. The main character is a brilliant man named Aleksandr Bezetov and the book describes the struggles that he endures while living in a chaotic Russia. It is a fascinating story of a brutal time in which people are ruled by the iron hand of the KGB. People are imprisoned and tortured for the tiniest of infractions. Chess is a way to temporary safeguard a position for Aleksandr and his family. It is a way to earn income and bring prestige to his name. However, he soon discovers the horrors that occur in the everyday life of his peers and decides to take action. This book is a journey into the past and a gradual move toward the future. It shares both the career growth of Aleksandr and the second character’s (Irina Ellison) visit to Russia.

I found this book to be a very interesting interpretation of both the political and economic events of Russia. I like how the author used the game of chess as a way to introduce the reader to Putin and a communist Russia. I find that most of what the author wrote about could easily be applied to some major current events of today. I found both Aleksandr to be well thought out and his role to be excellent. He demonstrated how an average and a not so average citizen of Russia was watched and arrested. No one person was protected. I really feel that the book did not even need Irina. I understand that the author was using her to make an important statement to the reader. However, I honestly believe that this book could have stood alone without her. There was ample enough story without her and I really found Aleksandr’s story to be more interesting and often found myself skipping a couple of pages to get to his section. I found Irina to be a little pitiful and boring, while I admired Aleksandr for his persistence in pushing forward. Either way I enjoyed this book immensely and highly recommend it. For those that enjoy a more intellectual read, than this book is a must for you. I advise you to read it when you have ample time to spare or are on vacation. I also would like to thank the author and goodreads since this was given to me in a giveaway. It was much appreciated and I had a great time. ( )
  Jennifer35k | Sep 12, 2014 |
A Russian chess master/political candidate and a young American woman whose lives intersect.
  wcbookclub | Mar 18, 2014 |
Players in the chess game of life
By Laura Lanik on March 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Life is like a chess game and A Partial History of Lost Causes is the manual on how to live a life doomed to be interrupted by death. A Partial History of Lost Causes is the story of two unique individuals and their journey through life to a crossroads where their lives intersect.

Alexsandr's character is loosely based on the real life Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov. Alexsandr is the King of the novel who retires from chess and decides to run a losing campaign against Putin. He surrounds himself with pawns who support his political game that is ultimately controlled by Vladimir Putin. Yet he cannot forget the woman he loved in his youth and he is haunted by his friend Ivan's death.

Irina is a thirty something American who is awaiting the onset of Huntington's disease which she inherited from her father. The Queen of the novel, she escapes to Russia after finding a letter her father wrote to Alexsandr. Irina is fighting a losing battle against a horrible illness and she is hoping Alexsandr can answer her father's question and thereby help her go on with her life. She does not know how to live a life that is doomed.

A Partial History of Lost Causes is one meaty, multi-layered story. The novel gives the reader a lot to learn and discuss. Alexsandr and Irina are both lost causes and the theme of the story runs throughout the book. Dubois's writing is beautiful and her descriptions are unique and imaginative.

Every once in a awhile a book comes along that takes place in a part of the world that is part of your own personal history. The history of the book covers an era or a time that you remember being a small part of. A Partial History of Lost Causes takes place in St Petersburg and Moscow, Russia from 1979 to 2008. ( )
  lmbigens | Sep 24, 2013 |
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Abandoning her life when her father succumbs to Huntington's disease, Massachusetts native Irina discovers an unanswered letter from her father to an internationally renowned chess champion and political dissident, whom she decides to visit in Russia.… (more)

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