I savored every minute in June, but July is rushing by. I need to sit tranquilly in the garden like Elizabeth in Elizabeth and Her German Garden… except I didn’t plant a garden this year.
Well, at least I’ve been reading a lot.
Here’s what I’ve been reading.
Censorship is endemic in the theater. Nora and her lover, Tengiz, a famous director, are too creative for their political time. They stage a radical production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters which is shut down after one performance. Tengiz is in and out of Nora’s life, but he has a huge influence on her decidedly odd son Yurik, who becomes obsessed with the Beatles after Tengiz gives him old records.
As the years go by, Nora works in the theater but also must care for her parents on their deathbeds. And she is very anxious about her son Yurik, whom she sends him to America to live with his father to save him from military service.
I find Nora’s story more interesting than that of her grandparents–let’s hear it for traditional narratives! Jacob’s letters and diary entries sometimes drag, but they capture the history of the first half of the twentieth century This is more than a family story, of course: it is also an ambitious story of Russia. And I am impressed with the graceful style. Translator Polly Gannon served Ulitskaya well!
If you like Janet Fitch’s wonderful historical novel set in Russia, The Revolution of Marina M., you will probably enjoy Jacob’s Ladder.
Although the girl’s story is credible—she uncannily describes the layout of the house—the Sharpes say they’ve never seen her, and Robert investigates. This case is based on the eighteenth-century case of Elizabeth CannIng, according to James Sandoe in the introduction.
And now on a different subject: Please recommend a costume drama! After being spellbound by three seasons of the BBC science fiction series, Humans, I became almost “synth-identified”(synths are human-looking robots who are more more humane than most humans). Now I need something calming, even a little boring, preferably a costume drama. Any recommendations?