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The Nesting Dolls by Cynthia Rogers Parks

The Nesting Dolls

by Cynthia Rogers Parks

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This book had me hooked from the very beginning. The characters are so real, so human. At the beginning the story is told from the viewpoint of Maria who lives in the French Concession in Shanghai with her mother Olena and her father Sergei and her sister Katya. They are Russian refugees taking asylum in China. I knew about the Jews who sought refuge in Shanghai (and they are mentioned in the book) but was not aware of the other nationalities that fled there. Maria meets and marries an American soldier named Charlie. From there we read of Maria's almost idyllic life with Charlie in Shanghai. But when Charlie's tour of duty is over, he returns to America (rural Georgia) with his wife. Although Maria is highly intelligent and knows several languages (she was an interpreter in Shanghai), in Georgia she is just a foreigner who is not welcomed by her husband's family. I truly ached to read of how this idyllic marriage then turned so wrong. Maria tried desperately to be accepted. Her one friend was Charlie's sister Abby. Even with all the pain in the story there are also moments of tenderness. At the end of the book I felt like I was saying good-bye to friends for the last time. I grieved for Maria's tragic life. I missed a couple of characters that played their role and then disappeared -- as does happen in real life. But I especially felt a sad parting from the strong females of each generation who loved and suffered -- Maria, Ana, Emily. Like the "nesting dolls" (Matroyoshka dolls), each generation was a separate doll that could stand alone but whose life neatly fit into the one before it and held closely the one after it. The slow revealing of each life was a piece of beauty, as are the dolls as they are unstacked. The author has a true mastery of writing so the reader can feel totally immersed into the story. I felt I was taking a truly beautiful journey with these women. Seldom do I re-read portions of a book, but with this one I did - just to re-experience the beauty of the writing. ( )
  BettyTaylor56 | Dec 9, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0983243158, Paperback)

The Nesting Dolls is a family saga, made deep by historical detail and wide by the sweep of time. Its tangible symbol is a little set of matryoskas, the lacquered nesting dolls given to Olena Petrova by her own mother in 1917, near the bloody end of the Bolshevik revolution. From the busy streets of occupied Shanghai, to the pastoral American postwar South, despite miles of ocean and the barriers of class and culture, four generations of women struggle to repeat that simple transfer. A hauntingly intimate portrait of four mothers— each confronting the loss of life’s most precious treasure—The Nesting Dolls is a story for those who believe in improbable legacies. It’s a story for those who know that family ties can never really be severed. That all of us, whether we know it or not, live our lives encased and surrounded by those who came before.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:34 -0400)

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