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Publisher's Summary

Jane Marlow's debut novel is a beautifully written 25-year saga of two families - one born of noble heritage and the other bound as serfs to the noble's household. Set during the mid-1800s in the vast grain fields of Russia, Who Is to Blame? follows the lives of two star-crossed serfs, Elizaveta and Feodor, torn apart by their own families and the church while simultaneously trapped in the inhumane life of poverty to which they were born.

At the other end of the spectrum, Count Maximov and his family struggle to maintain harmony amidst a tapestry of deception and debauchery woven by the count's son. The plot twists further when the tsar emancipates 20 million serfs from bondage while the rural gentry's life of privilege and carelessness has taken its final bow and much of Russia's nobility faces possible financial ruin.

Aficionados of historical fiction will be captivated by the lyrical flow of Marlow's intertwining stories of love, loss, courage, and pain against her backdrop of social upheaval. The novel's riddles flow subtly throughout, spurring listeners to ponder where the blame actually lies. In the end, we must tap into our own hearts to navigate the depths and quandaries of the author's perplexing question.

©2016 Jane Mahlow (P)2016 Jane Mahlow

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  • Lisa
  • Elm Grove, WI
  • 05-14-18

Riddles of Russian Life in the 19th Century

This book is an accurately researched look at Russia from the 1840's to the 1860's, including Russia's so-called "emancipation" of the serfs. Each chapter starts out with a Russian riddle, which was such an entertaining part of the book. From childhood, Russians are taught riddles, part of the country's rich linguistic history. Besides the riddles, the author vividly and compassionately depicts the brutal (but hopeful) lives of peasants in a village called Petrovo . Concurrently, the author examines the lives of the wealthy landowners of the Petrovo estate. The chapters alternate between members of the estate family and the villagers, especially the star-crossed love of the peasants, Elizaveta and Feodor. The narrator spoke with a Russian accent and pronunciation of Russian names shows the beauty of the Russian language. I was caught up in both learning about Russia and being drawn into the compelling, complicated lives of both the peasants and landowners. A guide to the characters and locales was helpful.

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Very realistic picture of Russian live in 19th cen

I loved listening to this story, enjoyed following story lines of all characters.
And I loved the riddles!