“‘Neither Marx nor Lenin knows how this transformation will happen – how man will change from a selfish lout to a caring, hardworking comrade. They just believe that somehow it will.’
[Natasha] looked again into Mr. Lindloff’s eyes. ‘You don’t believe that.’
“No. You cannot change a man’s nature or behavior by outside means, Natasha Ivanova. There must be a change of a man’s heart, and only God can do that.'” (p. 57-58)
In 1917 Russia, a current of unrest was brewing among the working class. The age of opulence, wealth, and faith was on its way out and Socialism, as proclaimed by the Bolsheviks, was on its way in. The Bolshevik Revolution would change the course of history forever.
Based on a true story, Sears focuses on the Lindlof family, the only Latter-Day Saints living in Russia at the time. Their strong faith and bourgeoise position in society are in direct opposition of everything the Bolsheviks stand for. It is not long before their family is torn apart and most of the Lindlof children are sent away to a work camp in Siberia.
Agnes Lindloff’s best friend is Natasha Ivanova, devout follower of the Soviet cause. Natasha’s high-profile job writing propaganda for the party puts her in contact with powerful figures like Lenin and Trotsky, but also causes some tension in her friendship with Agnes. She thinks the Lindloff’s beliefs are superstitious and meaningless, but she and Agnes manage to put their differences aside and remain quite close. When the Lindloff’s are arrested in the middle of the night, Natasha’s entire belief system is shaken to the core.
The Revolution is not unfolding as Natasha believed it would. Innocent people are being thrown into work camps. Party leaders are acting in their own best interest, instead of the interest of the people. Suspicion, skepticism, fear and distrust run rampant as the Bolsheviks struggle to make their cause heard. Natasha surprisingly finds herself clinging to a book Mr. Lindloff gave her called The Articles of Faith. As she reads further, Natasha’s views begin to shift.
I really enjoyed Sear’s account of this tumultuous time in Russian history. She has obviously meticulously researched the events surrounding the Tsar’s deposition and the Bolshevik Revolution. I appreciated the footnotes at the end of each chapter that provided more information about some of the details mentioned in the narrative. At times some of the situations the characters were in seemed somewhat contrived, but overall I found the prose descriptive and easy to read and the characters believable. I’m fascinated by fiction based on scandalous events in history and Sear’s novel provided just the fix I needed.