I recently finished this book, The Cruel Romance: A Novel of Love and War by Marina Osipova. I learned about and connected with Marina on Sally Cronin’s author interviews and new books series at Sally’s virtual Bookstore and Cafe. I knew I wanted to read this book so didn’t hesitate to purchase it and bump it up on my big fat TBR. It’s historical fiction from the WWII era and that is one of my favorite genres to read when I’m not reading nonfiction. Have a look at my review below:
On October 1941, in 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 beloveds 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 Serafimas and Vityas 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?
The Cruel Romance is a tale of love, violence, and acceptance as Serafima is forced to live with what the Germans left behind. This compelling story makes for a thrilling read in a setting and time that comes to life, pulling the reader into the vividly drawn, rarely seen world (Elisabeth Amaral, author of When Any Kind of Love Will Do and Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup).
My 5 Star Review:
A cruel romance indeed. And as we all know, nothing is fair in love or war.
A fast paced, unputdownable engaging read from Osipova where she takes us into the troubled, and life of hardship of Serafima, a poor Russian girl, barely yet 18 years old. Serafima is caught in the midst of WWII and a sorrowful parting with her newly flourishing love with Victor who is heading off to the Russian front to join the war. Serafima vows to wait for him, both in virtue and in her heart. The author paints vivid imagery with poignant settings and well fleshed out complicated characters in a complicated time.
Already living in a tiny village in the forest, well outside of Moscow, Serafima knows poverty and hunger well, yet never complains. Living with her emotionless mother in a tiny hut, she learns that her hardships are about to get a lot worse after two German soldiers invade and take over her tiny home, complete with her and her mother as their private slaves, where Serafima endures the brunt of mental and physical abuse.
Throughout the passing years, Serafima never stops pining for her lost love Victor. And as the war comes to an end and the Germans move out, Serafima finds herself with child. We are now drawn into the raw emotion and struggle Serafima must deal with when her child is born and her disgust for his conception overshadows any joy she should have from giving birth and ultimately, distancing herself emotionally from her own child.
When a few more years pass, still with hope her Victor will return to marry her, she receives a rude awakening one day when he does return and he spots her child. A misunderstanding from unspoken words and a lifetime of holding back the truth changes the course of Serafima’s life dramatically. Instead Serafima continues to work and make the best life she can while dismissing her undying love for Victor and learning to live with a broken heart.
Victor too never stopped loving Serafima despite their lack of reconciliation, and demonstrates how unresolved love can grow into vengeance. Life is a circle, and secrets of the past have a way of working themselves back into one’s life just as they did for Serafima, when she was faced to make peace with her past. Can she ever find love again? Will she eventually reunite with Victor? You will have to read the book to find out.
This book had me turning pages at every opportunity I could pick up the book. I will say. the ending was quite surprising, The book was beautifully written and so engaging I can’t help but give it 5 stars!
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