Your audiobook is waiting…

Laurus

Narrated by: James Anderson Foster
Length: 13 hrs and 17 mins
5 out of 5 stars (66 ratings)
Regular price: $31.49
$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

It is the late 15th century and a village healer in Russia called Laurus is powerless to help his beloved as she dies in childbirth, unwed and without having received communion. Devastated and desperate, he sets out on a journey in search of redemption. But this is no ordinary journey: it is one that spans ages and countries, and which brings him face-to-face with a host of unforgettable, eccentric characters and legendary creatures from the strangest medieval bestiaries.

Laurus's travels take him from the Middle Ages to the Plague of 1771, where as a holy fool he displays miraculous healing powers, to the political upheavals of the late 20th century. At each transformative stage of his journey, he becomes more revered by the church and the people, until he decides, one day, to return to his home village to lead the life of a monastic hermit - not realizing that it is here that he will face his most difficult trial yet.

Laurus is a remarkably rich novel about the eternal themes of love, loss, self-sacrifice, and faith, from one of Russia's most exciting and critically acclaimed novelists.

©2015 Eugene Vodolazkin; translation copyright 2015 by Lisa C. Hayden (P)2017 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    59
  • 4 Stars
    5
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    55
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    55
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Speechless

buy a hard copy as well!
read, re-read, doesn't matter you are religious or not but definitely helps if you know a thing or two about Russian Orthodoxy much like Brothers Karamazov. When you know nothing about Russia's spiritual heritage, books like this are still AAA grade reading material. If you are sympathetic to Orthodox spirituality, then the reading experience would be stratospherically enhanced- an altogether tear inducing, core shaking experience.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A true modern classic

I don't care much for modern literary fiction, but this amazing novel shows that all is not lost for modern era. And as if to contradict me, almost none of the novel takes place in the modern era (although there are time jumps).

This is a compelling story of a love found and lost, of a boy growing up a healer, of dealing with death, ubiquitous in the land of the Medieval Rus'. It is also an incredibly pious story, a story of a man's struggle to come to terms with his lost love through pious acts of healing, and becoming a 'holy fool.'

A must-read (listen)!

#Audible20

“AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY”

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

This book paints a very vivid picture of middle age life in Russia. While it is fiction I think the author has created an accurate portrait of the simple beliefs of Russian Orthodox peasants and the Fools for Christ and Elders of the Middle Ages. I am sure I will listen to this again and again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Hard to describe, but pick it up

I do not often just say, go buy a book, but if you like the mix of books that I tend to review, just go and buy the book. Laurus is a modern Russian novel, wonderfully translated to English. Vodolazkin, the author, is a midevil scholar who has recreated the alien nature of the midevil Russian world wonderfully.

I really have a hard time trying to figure out how to describe Laurus. It is about an ancient Christian healer. So it is sort of Christian fiction. But it is by a Russian so it does not fit into any of the traditional modern christian novel categories. Laurus takes Christianity very seriously, but using what I can only describe as magical realism to give structure to the healing and mysticism of the Russian Orthodox Christianity that is illustrated so well here. In some ways Laurus reads more like a book of ancient Christian devotional literature as much as it read like a novel.

Laurus opens with a boy, Arseny, trained by Christopher to be a healer. The book then follows that boy as through four acts of his life, each with a different name. There is trauma, healing, spiritual wisdom, magic (and by that I don’t mean spells, but the magical and beautiful reality of faith and real life.)

I mostly listened to this as an audiobook, although I have it both as audio and kindle books. I may have more thoughts about it when I read it again. Right now I am still basking in the glow of a book enjoyed. But this is a book that deserves to be read again and I will.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Memory Eternal!

“Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:1)

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19 KJV)

Christophoros, is Christ-bearer and Theophoros is God-bearer. Liturgically, every day ends with Vespers and one hymn that is always found in the Vespers services is the song of St. Symeon, Theophoros, the God-bearer, also titled Christophoros because his 300+ yr also ended with the sight of his salvation, Christ.

Christopher bore Arseny, as a grandfather bears a grandson. Arseny feared the shame of presenting his own son, born out of wedlock, to the high priest. This is the Feast that is celebrated 40 days after Christ’s birth and is a celebration Christ born lawfully, under the law. Though Mary was seeming with child out of wedlock, she was married to a man who was not Christ’s Father yet in faith in God’s promise and law, not hiding in shame, claimed him as hers own and presented him to God, to the High Priest at the Temple, where St. Symeon was able to “see his salvation.”

Arseny doesn’t do this, and in his shame and pride in his own “power over the comos”, conceals his sin and the child fruit of his union doesn’t live the 40 days to be presented to Christ and to be Baptized.

Just as the St. Symeon lived a long uncertain pilgrimage in this life, having been told by God that the enigma of a child born of a virgin and his salvation, would be revealed to him, so too was Laurus’ end as a sign of His salvation allowing him to “depart in peace.” So we see in this the eternal setting of Sun of His life, “evening and morning, One day.” He was given the opportunity to accept all the shame that he so regretfully rejected early in his life, of a child born in wedlock. He was placed in the role one again delivering the child, this time he was sensibly paralyzed with fear as opposed to being murderously self-confident. This time his presence was to the salvation and eternal benefit of the child, for he was conceived in wedlock and delivered into this life by a saint. It was truly an exchange of life. In a way very similar to the Gospel account. St. Symeon was one of the Seventy translators of the Septuagint, who lived “according to Thy Word.”

Reference to Historic Events:
St. Arsenius the Great was a the tutor of the Imperial House and left all prestige for the Ascetic life in the Desert of Egypt under the discipleship of St Macarius and St John the Dwarf. The Life of Saint Macarius of Scetis explains the following:
“When the parents of the young girl found out that this(that her and her husband had a child out of wedlock) had happened to her, they asked her, ‘What has happened to you? Who did this? Tell us!’ She, just as she had been instructed by the young man, said, ‘I went to see the anchorite {Macarius} one day. It was he who did this to me. He got me pregnant.’” St. Macarius did not deny the accusation and accepted the sin of the couple as his own.

Historic Reference:
St. Seraphim’s Blessing to become an Anchorite
“The bearer of this, Hieromonk Seraphim of the Sarov Monastery, is given leave to remain in solitude in his (i.e., the Monastery’s) summer-house, on account of his unfitness for life in community, owing to his illness, and in accordance with his zeal, after a trial of many years in the monastery; and he is allowed to go into solitude solely for the sake of peace of spirit, for God’s sake, and with a rule given to him according to the regulations of the Holy Fathers; and in the future let no one hinder him from remaining in that place; and this I confirm. (signed) Hieromonk Isaiah. In witness of which, I hereby affix a seal.”

Regarding the sanctification of time and One Day, any cursory examination of the Liturgical calendar will plainly show saints of same name reposing on the same day. It’s a grace for the saint to repose in his patron’s feast. In this way the two become one, One Day.

The contemporary theological scholar and Roman Catholic priest wrote an article on the Christian celebration of the renewal of time. The article is entitled “Christmas? Pagan? No But New Years Day Is”
https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/12/how-we-got-new-year-day.html
Here he emphasizes that it was Julius Caesar who added January and February, decreeing that the year begin with January instead of March as it had before.

He explains the following: “New Years’ Day at the beginning of January was officially eliminated at the Council of Tours in 597, and across Europe the start of a new year was celebrated variously at Christmas, Easter or most significantly March 25.
The date of March 25 not only connected with the most ancient celebrations of the new year at the Spring equinox, but in the Christian calendar March 25 is the celebration of the Annunciation—the announcement by the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would bear a son. The date of March 25 was determined by the Jewish belief that great men were conceived on the same day of the year as their death. Jesus Christ died on March 25, (so the theory goes) which means he was conceived on March 25. Incidentally this is also the origin for the traditional date of Christmas—nine months from March 25.”

Christ’s Life is seen as One Day, the Eternal/Liturgical “Today”. This is the Eighth Day, Pascha, the Passover fulfilled by Christ’s Resurrection. This is emphasized in that the entire week after Pascha, Bright Week, is considered One Day. And it can also be said about the entirety of the 40 days after Pascha! Every Major Liturgical Feast is introduced as “Today!”

Before we bring it back to Laurus a quick discourse on the civil “New” Julian Calendar and the Christian “Old” Calendar, this Old Calendar was used by all of Christendom up until the beginning of the 20th Century and is still used by the Russian Orthodox Church today. The Old Calendar is 13 days “behind the Julian Calendar. St. Laurus is commemorated on the 18th of August. August 18+13=31. August 31st marks the end of the Liturgical Calendar/year. The Modern/Julian reckoning and interpretation reveals it to be “the end of time!” This is what “no one is ready for” their death. The “end of time” is the end of empirical experience.

His repose was on the repose of his patron in the Great Schema and in death, Laurus. It also marked the birth of the Orphaned Virgin’s son. If this boy is to be named as Arseny was named for the patron of the day of his birth he will receive Arseny’s name in the Great Schema/death, Laurus. It is significant also to note that 9 months prior to August 18th/31st is the 18th/31st of December. In the Julian reckoning this end of the Civil/worldly year marks the conception of his death to this life and the End of Time. December 31st marks the end of the Afterfeast of Christ’s Nativity.

In the Old Calendar reckoning December 31st marks the reposed if St. Symeon the pilgrim and wanderer of Verkhoturye, who also lived in a churchyard! See below:

“The ascetic wandered much, but most often he lived at a churchyard of the village of Merkushinsk not far from the city of Verkhoturye (on the outskirts of Perm). Saint Simeon loved nature in the Urals, and while joyfully contemplated its majestic beauty, he would raise up a thoughtful glance towards the Creator of the world. In his free time, the saint loved to go fishing in the tranquility of solitude. This reminded him of the disciples of Christ, whose work he continued, guiding the local people in the true Faith. His conversations were a seed of grace, from which gradually grew the abundant fruits of the Spirit in the Urals and in Siberia, where the saint is especially revered.”

References to Historical Events:
The Holy Synod of Russia’s Declaration of Canonization of St. Seraphim of Sarov
“After his blessed repose in the Lord, memory of his exalted ascetic life not only did not fade, but gradually grew and became established among all classes of the Orthodox people of Russia.”

“I leave the following will to be executed by my words and brethren who are of the same spirit as myself. I pray you, cast away my body in the desert, to be devoured by the beasts and birds, for that body has greatly sinned before God and is unworthy of burial. If you will not do this, then dig a pit on the grounds where we live and bury me in it with every kind of dishonor. Take heed of the words with which the great Arsenius charged his disciples: ‘I will prosecute you if you give up my body to anyone; I have done all I could not to be granted fame and honor either in life or in death.’ I ask everyone to pray for my sinful soul, and I beg everyone to forgive me, as I myself forgive; may God forgive everyone.” – From “St. Nilus’ Last Will”, qtd. in G.P. Fedotov, A Treasury of Russian Spirituality, 133

St. Nil Sorsky was the leader of the hesychastic “Non-Possessors i

To top it all off, my wife is with child as I write this, and the due date is January 21st, Hieromartyr Eugene, the author’s namesake!

Blessed be the Existing, always now and ever and unto ages of ages!


0 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 11-04-18

An outstanding novel

And so is the translation and especially the reading. For a useful intro, see the TED talk on this novel by Archbishop Rowan Williams.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • T Kus, UK
  • 05-10-18

An exceptional novel and a great performance

This book about a medieval Russian healer hardly sounds enticing but the scope of this story transcends times and places. It has exceptional lyrical qualities which come across very well both in the translation and the audio narration. The main character is full of warmth and empathy with almost saintly yet deeply humane features. Those he encounters are equally well drawn and memorable and I found myself hooked both to the Kindle and the audio version in an attempt to find out what happened next. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time and I can only recommend it to anyone who enjoys a great story told in an unusual way.