RUSSKA is a mighty novel that spans 1,800 years of Russia's history, people, politics and culture from the ancient wandering tribes on the great Eurasian plain to the present day. The story follows the fortunes of five intertwined families: the noble Bobrovs, serf Romanovs, Cossack Karpenkos; the Suvorins - Old Believers, capitalists and patrons of the arts; and lastly the Popovs, parish priests and revolutionaries.
Members of these families seek their destinies through the old Russian period of golden Kiev, with its famous Orthodox cathedrals and monasteries, the terrible invasions of the Mongol descendants of Genghis Khan, the rise of Moscow and the boyars, and the dark days of Ivan the Terrible and his secret police. Modern times begin with the wild, romantic story of the Cossacks, the conflict between the indomitable westernizer, Peter the Great, and the religious Old Believers who burn themselves alive rather than enter the europeanised world of St Petersburg. From this time the story follows Russia's on-and-off flirtation with freedom, from the extraordinary reign of Catherine the Great, and the idealist democrats in the days of WAR AND PEACE, to the opportunist Bolsheviks of the Russian Revolution, and the tyrants of the twentieth century.
Warriors and hermits, boyars and serfs, romantic heroines and rich old ladies, fortune-builders and exiles - the characters in RUSSKA inhabit the rich, astonishing, evocative and contradictory world of forest and steppe, icon and axe, Orthodox faith and Jewish persecution, of gorgeous churches, magnificent palaces, and squalid villages; of Russian folk art and sumptuous opera, of Tolstoy and Lenin, Tchaikovsky and Rasputin.