This week I am reviewing The Cruel Romance: A Novel of Love and War by Marina Osipova
About the book
October 1941. A small village outside Moscow. Serafima bids farewell to Vitya, a Soviet officer going to the front. With only moments left together, she places a cross around her beloved’s neck and reluctantly releases him into a cruel world where nothing is certain, especially whether she will ever see him again. Days later Germans invade her village and take over her tiny house. Serafima and her mother must comply with orders, endure abuse, and stay put or their village will be annihilated.
As World War II intertwines Serafima’s and Vitya’s life with that of a young German violinist and a Russian intellectual, their destinies are irrevocably altered. Can they rise to the challenge of agonizing moral choices and learn to forgive and love again?
My review for the book 20th June 2020
A well written novel with central characters and events that will stay with you long after the book is finished.
The story is told with stark realism of life in a small village near Moscow and of the conflict on the Eastern Front, at a time when Russia and Germany were back and forth across each other’s border with devastating consequences. For all the horror, suffering and death of the men fighting on the front line, it was the women and children who ended up being brutalised, starved and reviled by their own.
There is already poverty in the village where Serafima lives with her single mother in a small house that catches the eye of the commander of the invading German forces as his billet.
Despite the forced labour and the harsh Russian winter, Serafima keeps her dreams alive by thinking of Vitya who she loves and is now on the front. Then one day there is a devastating event that would not only change her life for ever, but that of a young German soldier whose gentleness has been twisted by the military code of domination.
Threaded through the inhumanity of war, is the beauty of music, kindness from unexpected sources, compassion, rekindling of maternal love and forgiveness.
All the characters are strongly drawn and evolve through the story as events bring about fundamental changes to their personalities and behaviour. Some become dehumanised whilst others seek redemption. We follow their lives during the conflict and in the uneasy peace that follows, discovering their inner thoughts in letters written to family and loved ones.
With the war ended, the race to grab power in the resulting vacuum is lethal in its unbending drive to annihilate any resistance. Even from those who have fought for their country or worked as slaves in the factories to support the war effort. For a population already starved of food, freedom and rights during war, there is little difference in peace time.
This book is not a Mills and Boon romance, it is stark, realistic and emotive with a surprising ending that does at least bring all the threads together with a feeling of closure. Whilst a little more justice was deserved by one or two, in the real world that does not always happen, especially when the people concerned are shielded by the uniform that they wear.
It is a reminder that whilst there is bravery on an individual basis in war, there is also inhumanity, cruelty and dishonour, tragically aimed at those least able to defend themselves. Recommended.
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And Amazon UK: Amazon UK
Also by Marina Osipova
Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US
And on: Amazon UK
Read more reviews and follow Marina on Goodreads: Goodreads
About Marina Osipova
I was born in the German Democratic Republic to a military family. I am a graduate of the Moscow State Institute of History and Archives and also graduated from the Moscow Institute for Foreign Languages as a German language interpreter. I worked for a Soviet Governmental Department in the section of International Affairs, then for various German and Austrian firms. Extensive travel to these countries gave me a chance to become intimately familiar with the lands and the people.
In 2001, I immigrated to the United States and eventually made my home in Pawling, NY.
Before publishing The Cruel Romance (Historical Fiction), I have written two other books, The Garden of Weeds and Katyuscha.
My next project is related to the occupation of a part of Austria by the Soviet Army in 1945 – 1955 (working title, österreichisches Engelchen und Alescha. Die Okkupationsromanze).
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Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the review… and that you will head over to check out this book and the others by Marina Osipova.. thanks Sally.