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Who Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane…
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Who Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle

by Jane Marlow

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Showing 5 of 5
I really enjoyed reading this historical fiction book. Russian life in the 1800's was extremely interesting. I found the riddles preceding each chapter fun, thought-provoking and downright indecent at times! During this time in history, superstitions and old wives tale's ran rampant and was evidenced throughout the story. It was definitely weird what people believed in back then. It's obvious that Jane Marlow put a lot of time, research and thought into this story. This book was 300 pages, spanning 25 years, but I could have easily read 800 pages to gain more information and detail into each characters' life and background. I definitely wanted more!

I'm so happy that I won this book through LibraryThing's Member Reviewer's Giveaway. ( )
  PrettyTarantula | Apr 19, 2017 |
Who Is to Blame?: A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow; (2 1/2*)

I expected to like and appreciate this novel much more that I actually did. It is about the serfs and the nobility in the 1800s just prior to the ending of serfdom. The book seemed to be very well researched and covers a place in time that I am not very familiar with so I was looking forward to the read.
But the characters seemed flat and one dimensional to me and there wasn't much growth there. When one writes a novel that covers this many years one expects to comprehend that growth. That took some of my enjoyment away from the book. I do know that there are many of you out there in the reading world who will most likely love this novel but sadly..........I am not one of them.

My thanks to NetGalley and River Grove Books for allowing me to read and review Who is to Blame? ( )
  rainpebble | Feb 15, 2017 |
The book is set in the 1800s before the emancipation of the serfs and follows Count Stepan Maximov and Elizaveta who is a peasant.

Elizaveta loves her childhood friend but they can’t marry because marrying your godparents’ child can’t happen. Instead, she has to marry a man she knows is a violent one and the marriage isn’t a happy one. But it seems like abusiveness kinda runs in Ermak’s family and Elizaveta’s sister-in-laws aren’t having any more luck in their lives.

Maximov’s lost their child and Stepan’s wife never got over her grief and it starts to affect their marriage too. Stepan struggles to run the estate, to find new ways to grow and develop it but new things takes time. In the latter part, we see more of Anton, the eldest Maximov son who spends most of his time drinking and playing cards.

I don’t really know what to say about this. I loved the book and was pleasantly surprised how good it was. It’s always hardest to write about a book you like… I just wanted to keep reading and wanting to know what happens next!

You can see that the author has done her research and there are lots of little details but it’s well written in the story.

We get to see how disconnected the nobility and the peasants were and had so little contact with each other. Nobility thought that the peasants should be thankful because they are being taken care of…. By working them to death yet they were seen as just lazy…

I wanted to slap Anton so many times that I’m not surprised that Stepan was so frustrated with him. He did change his ways a bit in the end but I would like to know if he manages to really change. But I think there is next book coming so I’m hoping we’ll see that. ( )
  Elysianfield | Nov 29, 2016 |
Linda Z, Reviewer

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for an ARC of "Who is to Blame?" by Jane Marlow. This is a historical fiction genre set during 19th century Russia, and spanning over 25 years. The drama takes place between the Noble Class,(by heritage), and the serfs who tend the land and are born into poverty. Within each class, Jane Marlow writes about romance, conflicts, betrayal,family,loyalty, love, revenge., and power.Within the setting, the Tsar emancipates the serfs, and ongoing conflicts occur. The history is written well, and the characters are complex and conflicted as dictated by the times and circumstances. I enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it for those who enjoy historical fiction. The author leaves us with the question,"Who is to blame?" for the social upheaval.

Recommends This Book
Yes ( )
  teachlz | Nov 29, 2016 |
Who is to Blame? is a view into 19th century Russia and the dealings of the serfs with their land owners. It was sad, but fascinating, to read how the wealthy thought their system so benefitted the peasants. Much like plantation owners and the enslaved of the South, many of these wealthy people saw themselves as benevolent instead of as cruel taskmasters, treating the serfs more like cattle than humans.
The characters described are intriguing and the study of how women are seen and treated is disturbing. From the opening scene of a woman publicly shamed and beaten, how women are mistreated is detailed throughout the novel. The serfs are brutish and in-humane, worse than the wealthy who ignore the serfs when they starve. Women in the 1800s were without rights, but to read such detailed accounts makes the history, despairing though it is, come to life.
A sad, but well-written historical novel that portrayed a realistic, instead of a romantic, view of life in the mid 1800s. Thanks to NetGalley and Greenleaf Book Group for the ARC. ( )
  RobynELee | Nov 12, 2016 |
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One hundred and seventy years ago, political activist Alexander Herzen wrote the original Who Is to Blame? - a satire depicting the coarseness and pettiness of the Russian landed gentry. Herzen, himself the son of a rich Russian landowner, is credited with spawning the political climate that let to the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. As a tribute to that accomplishment, this book is dedicated to Alexander Herzen, a courageous activist and writer whose works have been translated into multiple languages.
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The girls froze. Their grain flails halted in mid-air, as their heads cocked toward the approaching jeers and raucous clanging.
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The same year the United States embarked on a hellish civil war to abolish slavery, Russia purged itself, without bloodshed, of three centuries of human bondage. But that doesn’t mean the Motherland’s transformation was painless. In liberating 1/3 of the Empire’s population, the Tsar uprooted the age-old relationship between lord and serf as well as the economy built upon it.

In a village no larger than a fly-speck, two families provide a stark dichotomy between the elites and the masses, between the master and the enslaved. With a mutual feeling of having been despoiled, the former serfs and their former masters cast blame on each other. But an inconvenient truth surfaces – the seeds of wrongdoing stem from diverse and far-flung sources.
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