The Revolution of Marina M.

Written by Janet Fitch
Review by Arleigh Ordoyne

The Russian Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath are explored in this lengthy, poetic novel by the author of White Oleander and Paint It Black. Marina Makarova is the privileged daughter of a bourgeois lawyer and socialite, and a gifted writer in her own right. While she dreams of life in cultured salons and dabbles in the political fervor spreading throughout Petrograd, unimaginable change is brewing. Caught between two worlds, Marina is forced to face hardship, betrayal, and one tragedy after another as the Red Terror overtakes the country.

On the cusp of womanhood, Marina falls in love with two vastly different men—one a childhood companion from her own social class, and the other a poverty-stricken poet and fervent revolutionary. She is also in turns burdened and blessed with the friendship of a devout member of the Bolshevik party. With deft precision, the author weaves through three tumultuous years of Marina’s life, detailing her warring thoughts, feelings, and decisions. One may think a book of this size would indicate a sweeping saga—and it is considering the multitude of events and turmoil—but the timeline itself is short. The finer details of the history, literature, politics, social structure, science, and even spiritualism are nothing short of brilliant.

The ending leaves too many loose ends, which the prologue does little to improve. It is truly jarring the turn the story takes when the reader is expecting certain situations to come full circle; however, it seems the author has chosen to take a poetic exit instead. The writing is infused with alliteration and idioms, as well as powerful and beautiful poetry in Marina’s voice. It is intense and unforgettable—not at all a disappointment for Fitch’s fans.