At long last, I can finally say I have read all of Edward Rutherfurd’s historical novels. Russka, was technically his second published novel, and it is a novel about Russia. As is typical of Rutherfurd historical fiction, we follow a couple of families from very early in the history of this area, in this case the book begins in the year 180 A.D. The author creates two fictional settlements, both named Russka, one of the south and one in the north. As the novel progresses, we see how the families are affected by political, religious and geographic changes around them.
This book was very good, but it has its flaws. First, I felt that some of the events that shaped the lives of the these families were contrived. They were very showy and shocking, and I didn’t feel Rutherfurd needed to resort to the Barbara Taylor Bradford style of writing. Second, Russka is too long. My copy, at 945 pages, took me nearly three weeks to complete. Perhaps he should have tried to put this work into two separate novels. Because of it’s length, I felt the end was rushed. One minute we’ve spent quite a bit a time on the Russian revolution of the early twentieth century, and then we’re thrown into a few pages of World War II and then post-Glasnost. The ending was terrific, and really tied everything together, but I would have enjoyed seeing the twentieth century in one separate novel, and expanded at that.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1991