The Patriots

The Patriots

A sweeping multigenerational debut novel about idealism, betrayal, and family secrets that takes us from Brooklyn in the 1930s to Soviet Russia to post-Cold War AmericaWhen the Great Depression hits, Florence Fein leaves Brooklyn College for what appears to be a plum job in Moscow—and the promise of love and independence. But once in Russia, she quickly becomes entangled i...

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Title:The Patriots
Author:Sana Krasikov
Rating:
ISBN:0385524412
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:538 pages

The Patriots Reviews

  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    Sep 27, 2016

    “Baba Flora didn’t regret her life. And neither do I. She had a front seat on history.”

    I thought my jaw might drop. “Is that what she called it?”

    “She always said, ‘The only way to learn who you are is to leave home’."

    Rich is characters and history, the reader watches the strange twists and turns of fate for one family. As Florence Fein falls in with left leaning student groups at her city college in Brooklyn in the 1930’s, she is driven to leave her free American middle class life on a cloud of

    “Baba Flora didn’t regret her life. And neither do I. She had a front seat on history.”

    I thought my jaw might drop. “Is that what she called it?”

    “She always said, ‘The only way to learn who you are is to leave home’."

    Rich is characters and history, the reader watches the strange twists and turns of fate for one family. As Florence Fein falls in with left leaning student groups at her city college in Brooklyn in the 1930’s, she is driven to leave her free American middle class life on a cloud of idealism. The Russia she finds changes through the years, and the girlish ideals she had dies along with her future. When she finds love and has a child with a fellow American expat, too she finds herself in trouble and soon, sent to a work camp. The novel follows Florence from her girlish beginnings and her reasons for going to Russia, and everything that leads up to her troubles. Too the reader is dropped into her son Julian’s time in the orphanage, her emigration to America and his return as a successful businessman as he tries to research his mother’s past. Julian’s son Lenny has a different vision of Russia and his opportunistic there. Just as idealistic as his Baba Flora once was, Julian and his son clash- as each of their understandings of Russia differ drastically.

    Early on in the orphanage Julian thinks he can save his mother through a ‘redeeming future.’ “I’d never bought the line my parents were enemies, a word I could associate only with German fascists. Yet I also knew they were not true Russians.” It was easier to imagine they had made mistakes, ones Russian born people never would. He wants nothing more than to be the best Russian he can, to salvage any dignity lost through his parents carelessness. Julian goes on to work hard, to join in, but will it all be for not? Just how great can he be, if there is a cap on greatness due to his American, Jewish heritage? Just what is a real “Muscovite”? These are things he will discover as he grows up. Is his mother an enemy of Russia or not? It is the not knowing that so confuses Julian and sets the stage for his future.

    What of Florence? Are all her friends, husband just co-conspirators or is it a narrative that is convenient to fictionalize in order to imprison the innocent? Were the very things Flora commit her heart to, abandon her own American comfort and family for her own undoing? “Suppressions and omissions were an unshakable habit of hers, as they are of so many who carry on unreciprocated romances with doomed causes.” The story of each character is tragic and doomed from the start. I spent a lot of time cringing at Florence’s naivete about her place in Russia. Florence starts with her head in the clouds and ends it broken and without hope. What a heck of a way to wake up to yourself, and the country you are in.

    How easily the life of her son, and future grandson are shaped by choices she made before either were thought of. Florence ends up costing her loved ones so very much, the most for her son Julian. People turn on each other, eyes and ears are everywhere and before long one has to wonder if they are guilty, and of what? Culture shock, what exactly freedom means from one place to another, how countries are different, how they are the same, at 560 pages the reader is taken through a changing Russia. It’s easy to see how a young impressionable person can be caught up in a fight that isn’t quite their own, how a hunger to be a part of changing history can hook someone. When betraying others is the only way to save yourself, and your family- how far do you go? Do you dig your own grave in throwing dirt on others? This novel is staggering, I felt the push and pull of each character’s emotional state and it isn’t an easy novel. Half the time, just like the characters, you don’t know who to trust or where you stand. With The Patriots, the reader is able to sneak into Russia and live under the radar during changing times without capture, unlike our poor family within. I won’t ruin this with any spoilers. Yes, read it!

    Publication Date: January 24, 2017

    Random House Publishing Group- Random House

    Spiegal and Grau

  • Nonna
    Oct 08, 2016

    I loved this book! Being somewhat familiar with the very real subject of young Americans (and Europeans) leaving the West to go build a 'bright future" in the USSR in the early 1930's, I find this book well researched and well written. The story of the times depicted in the US, USSR and modern day Russia is told through the sights of several characters Their narratives are braided together skillfully to paint a clear picture without belaboring the described subjects or exhausting the reader. Tha

    I loved this book! Being somewhat familiar with the very real subject of young Americans (and Europeans) leaving the West to go build a 'bright future" in the USSR in the early 1930's, I find this book well researched and well written. The story of the times depicted in the US, USSR and modern day Russia is told through the sights of several characters Their narratives are braided together skillfully to paint a clear picture without belaboring the described subjects or exhausting the reader. Thank you, NetGalley, for the privilege of reading it early.

  • Liz
    Jan 14, 2017

    A great book for those who like historical fiction. Florence leaves America for Russia in 1933. On the steamer heading east, she notices the immigrants heading back home like she was “watching an old Ellis Island film reel flipped by the Depression into reverse: masses of immigrants returning to the ship, being herded backwards through the great human warehouse as Lady Liberty waved them goodbye”.

    This is a big book, taking on three generations from Florence through her grandson. The book isn't

    A great book for those who like historical fiction. Florence leaves America for Russia in 1933. On the steamer heading east, she notices the immigrants heading back home like she was “watching an old Ellis Island film reel flipped by the Depression into reverse: masses of immigrants returning to the ship, being herded backwards through the great human warehouse as Lady Liberty waved them goodbye”.

    This is a big book, taking on three generations from Florence through her grandson. The book isn't told in a linear fashion, but jumps forwards and backwards.

    Florence is a sympathetic character. Foolhardy, big on ideas but not practical. Her decisions come back to haunt not only her and her son, Julian, who spends 7 years in an orphanage while his mother is sent to a work camp, but many others. Julian comes back to Russia to work for a partnership with a Russian oil company. Born in Russia, he is the only true American in mindset, as he struggles with the graft and corruption in the oil industry. He also struggles with the truths he learns about his mother. The only character I had no sympathy for was Leonard, her grandson. A real jerk who thinks he's better than he is, he returns to Russia trying to make his first million before he's 35.

    Krasikov does a great job of describing each era, from the Stalin regime to 2008 with its capitalist overtones. She's done her research and it shows. The book alternates between a sly humor and then true fear. “Purges and politics aside, there was plenty of fun to be had in Moscow in 9134.” But the same bureaucracy that was made fun of in the earlier years becomes scary as hell just a few years later. And it's so interesting to see that the war years were the years the Russian Jews felt safe.

    The author occasionally uses Julian to give the reader a sense of history, as with the story of Joseph Davies, the US Ambassador during the late 1930s. Some might not care for this approach, but I liked it. It gave you an unbiased sense of what Florence and Leon were dealing with. I learned a lot about The Soviet Union, especially the Stalin years. Extremely well written.

    As an interesting little side note, the chapters are labeled with passport stamps, giving you the city and year. It’s a neat touch.

    My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  • ☮Karen
    Feb 07, 2017

    The Patriots is a beautifully inspired epic of Florence Fein from Brooklyn, a career girl of Russian Jewish descent. Her job takes her to Cleveland to assist with a business deal between her American employer and a Russian company. Smitten with one of the Russians, she eventually trails him to the homeland. This begins her long story recounting the years 1932-1934 and up in Russia, turbulent years to put it mildly. She and her Jewish husband come through WWII virtually unscathed, safer there fro

    The Patriots is a beautifully inspired epic of Florence Fein from Brooklyn, a career girl of Russian Jewish descent. Her job takes her to Cleveland to assist with a business deal between her American employer and a Russian company. Smitten with one of the Russians, she eventually trails him to the homeland. This begins her long story recounting the years 1932-1934 and up in Russia, turbulent years to put it mildly. She and her Jewish husband come through WWII virtually unscathed, safer there from persecution than perhaps anywhere else. But they are in Russia and so it does not remain safe for long. They are arrested for espionage and their little boy placed in an orphanage.

    I much enjoyed Florence's story, alternated with a narration from her son Julian, who became an American. There was a third story of Julian's son Lenny, who resides in Moscow, and a visit from Julian, which I felt added very little to the story and almost, in fact, ruined it all for me. The book is over 500 pages and jumps around a great deal between countries and between timelines. This is a lethal combination for me and I felt like giving up on it many times. I'm glad to have finished though because it turned out to be a lesson in loyalties, faith, forgiveness, perseverance, promises kept, and much more.

    My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.

  • Bam
    Jan 31, 2017

    I am currently on a small Russian kick in my reading and enjoying it very much. This is the story of a young, idealistic Jewish woman from Brooklyn named Florence Fein who goes to Russia in the early 1930s to pursue love and the hope for a better life. Reality soon hits her smack in the face in the form of hardship, deprivation, and prejudice but she is determined to stick with it and ignores the pleas of her family to return home. Her fascinating story is told in a third person narrative.

    In co

    I am currently on a small Russian kick in my reading and enjoying it very much. This is the story of a young, idealistic Jewish woman from Brooklyn named Florence Fein who goes to Russia in the early 1930s to pursue love and the hope for a better life. Reality soon hits her smack in the face in the form of hardship, deprivation, and prejudice but she is determined to stick with it and ignores the pleas of her family to return home. Her fascinating story is told in a third person narrative.

    In contrast, her son, Julian Brink, tells his own story in the first person voice--bringing us into the world of modern day Russia as he travels there to do business and visit with his son, Lenny. Julian comes to a better understanding of his mother as he looks into the official record of her past and talks to his uncle Sidney.

    Be prepared for a long, slow, bleak read. I honestly never felt compelled to return to reading after putting the book down for a few hours but in the end, I'm glad I read it. I was very touched by the life of Flora Solomonova Brink, a naive woman of ideals and political sympathies, blinded by principles, who makes many mistakes and pays the price. I thoroughly enjoyed the look at Russian life portrayed in the story and what it was like to live in fear of that pounding on the door in the middle of the night. A cautionary tale in many ways!

    Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read an arc of this book.

  • Christine Zibas
    Jan 15, 2017

    The novel goes on to show that Sidney, the brother of the main character, is reflecting on the life of his sis

    The novel goes on to show that Sidney, the brother of the main character, is reflecting on the life of his sister, Florence Fein, who "unpinned herself from one set of circumstances, only to be pinned down by another." For Florence, it was the hope (during the Depression-era environment of the United States) that Russia might offer a more promising future for her.

    Of course, readers can easily imagine where that leads during the age of Stalin. Florence eventually is indicted for her "crimes" against Russia (despite pouring her heart and soul into building a new world), is sent to a Siberian labor camp, nearly dies, and is estranged from her only son for years. This is the story of that tale, alternately told by that very same son in more present times. So the historical novel switches back and forth between mother and son to provide a more fulsome overview.

    Given what we now know happened to the idealistic Soviet experiment, it may seem hard to understand why anyone would choose to leave the US for the greener pastures of the Soviet Union. But that was a different time, a time in our own country when people were willing do anything for a little hope.

    A favorite quote from the book reflects people on the move during the Depression, seeking a better life within their own country:

    Florence seeks her own release from that rising water all around. Combining an adventurous spirit with the idealistic folly of youth, Florence leaves her Brooklyn home to make a new life. This story, however, is more than the imagining of one woman's tale; instead, it is a reflection of the larger sea-changes of history.

    Brilliantly written, The Patriots is a captivating saga that surprised me with its relatability and depth. Life is seldom what we imagine it to be in our 20s. Perhaps that's a good thing, too. If we knew what lay ahead for us, would we have the courage to move forward?

    Thanks to Good Reads and Spiegel & Grau for letting me read this fine work.

  • Rebbie
    Dec 24, 2016

    The writing itself is worthy of 5 stars, and right off the bat I will say that I won't be a bit surprised if this makes it on the bestseller list. This isn't at all farfetched, considering that it's written with visualizations in mind, perhaps as if it were meant to be a movie or something.

    That takes a significant amount of talent, so props to the author for being able to pull it off. With that being said, I do think the book could've been quite a bit shorter. The book is 538 pages, and I found

    The writing itself is worthy of 5 stars, and right off the bat I will say that I won't be a bit surprised if this makes it on the bestseller list. This isn't at all farfetched, considering that it's written with visualizations in mind, perhaps as if it were meant to be a movie or something.

    That takes a significant amount of talent, so props to the author for being able to pull it off. With that being said, I do think the book could've been quite a bit shorter. The book is 538 pages, and I found myself skimming over some pages that I felt were not integral to the plot and could've easily been omitted.

    I get it, though. In some instances, books are written that way on purpose, so the reader can be sucked into that world and live there vicariously through the main characters. Each tidbit is meant to be savored.

    But I just don't think that worked here. Perhaps it was the extreme naivete and idealism of the main character, Florence Fein. Imo, she didn't have enough realism to keep her grounded. Rather, her head-stuck-in-the-clouds liberal viewpoint (for that era) of making such a huge decision to leave her home country (the USA) for the precarious country of Russia lends credence to the idea that she didn't have the proper amount of life experience and foresight to make such a drastic decision.

    Sure, people leave their native countries and trek across the world all the time, but they usually don't falsely believe they have it all figured out. Life doesn't work that way.

    I did, however, deeply appreciate the fact that the author did such a superb job with showing the aftermath and long-term consequences that a single decision can make. We never know how our decisions will effect our children and grandchildren, especially if they're not even born yet.

    I also liked how the author showed a different agenda in life (perhaps a different value set?) depending on the way you're raised not just by your family, but by the society in which you live. It can make it seem like parent and child are worlds apart in their views and opinions.

    Overall, it's a 3.5 star read, and it might be a great choice for those who love historical fiction, and/or those who enjoy novels written from rare povs.

    Thanks to netgalley.

  • Barbara
    Jan 22, 2017

    The Patriots is historical fiction at its best. The story is told from three perspectives: Florence, her son Julian, and his son Lenny. They each have lived part of their lives in Russia, and part in the U.S. Florence moved to Russia from Brooklyn in the 1930s and got trapped under Stalin and Lenin's regimes. Julian (whose Russian given name is Yulik) was born in Soviet Russia, emigrated to America later, and still works in Russia sometimes. These two characters tell the bulk of the story.

    It's

    The Patriots is historical fiction at its best. The story is told from three perspectives: Florence, her son Julian, and his son Lenny. They each have lived part of their lives in Russia, and part in the U.S. Florence moved to Russia from Brooklyn in the 1930s and got trapped under Stalin and Lenin's regimes. Julian (whose Russian given name is Yulik) was born in Soviet Russia, emigrated to America later, and still works in Russia sometimes. These two characters tell the bulk of the story.

    It's 500 pages of complex, in-depth, well-edited language and word pictures. Krasikov doesn't use florid language, but builds layers of description. I felt as if I was inside the tiny rooms in the communal apartments. Or struggling with the conflict between freedom and political principals.

    The themes are relevant today, despite much of the action taking place in the mid-twentieth century. How far are you willing to go to defend your family when you have no weapons? When you're well and truly trapped, is there any way to ease the burden?

    I learned a lot about this time and place in history, and came to know all the main characters well. Krasikov is a master of this genre.

    Thanks to Random House, Spiegel & Grau, and NetGalley for a review copy in exchange for my honest review!

  • Sherwood Smith
    Jan 24, 2017

    Years ago I used to walk on the beach at low tide every morning with my little daughter and our rescue dog. In spring and in fall, I’d look out over the Pacific, and began to perceive the migrating birds in three patterns: closest to the ground leaped, swooped, and dived the gulls and other sand birds, busy going about daily life as they scavenged the sand and the surf, and squabbled with one another.

    Then there were the middle layer birds, out there flying over Catalina Island and the tankers do

    Years ago I used to walk on the beach at low tide every morning with my little daughter and our rescue dog. In spring and in fall, I’d look out over the Pacific, and began to perceive the migrating birds in three patterns: closest to the ground leaped, swooped, and dived the gulls and other sand birds, busy going about daily life as they scavenged the sand and the surf, and squabbled with one another.

    Then there were the middle layer birds, out there flying over Catalina Island and the tankers dotting the horizon like placid square marine creatures. These were the short-hop birds, flying for a day and coming in to roost for a while at bird sanctuaries and other areas that humans hadn’t cemented over.

    Then, way high up, impossibly high, so they were barely dots, were the long distance birds, soaring so high and apparently covering thousands of miles before alighting for a season.

    I thought of these layers as I read this elegantly written, brilliantly observed novel that felt like a memoir, its details resonating with truth in every detail, every passion, and every grimly horrific event, with memoirs and biographies I’ve read.

    In 1930, after the Great Depression hits, Florence leaves the USA for Moscow, high-minded in her determination to do something great for humanity. And what could be greater than Lenin’s revolution freeing the worker? But what she slams into, of course, is the horror of Stalinist Russia, unflinchingly depicted, as she negotiates work, culture clash, relationships. And love.

    As her tale swaps with that of her son Julian, whose memories of labor camps and then of American plenty make him an outsider in both paradigms as he searches for his mother’s reasons for casting such a long shadow over his and his son’s life, we also obtain a glimpse of Russian life and how the heinousness of one power-monger can cast a shadow of evil not only over his own time, but generations after. I could only think,

    Florence, as an old woman, refuses to live with her real name on her apartment mail box; in her retirement home, she endures bedsores and neglect rather than make trouble. She sticks to her survival mode to the last day of her life, so very different from the loving, passionate, high-minded young woman who went eastward so many decades ago, but that is not the sum of her life. Far from it.

    This book is not about black and white, but the many, many shades in between. America versus Moscow in the political arena, and yet there is still trade. Individuals from both sides still manage to find moments of love, as well as betrayal.

    Systematic cruelty occurs because of ideological determination, because of fear, because of angry relish for taking out one’s own hatreds on the helpless. And then there are the many types of non-personhood, from political to cultural to interpersonal: another layer is the Jewish experience, east and west, in the twentieth century.

    It is not an easy book to read. It moves back and forth in time, shifting from omniscient narrator to first person, and of course there is the unflinching content, so well written that one cannot escape the heart-strike of intense emotional engagement that one can when reading awkward prose full of predictable cliché—clunky fragments in paragraph form—the oily ease of purple sentimentality.

    As I read, I kept marking extraordinarily insightful lines and sharply realized, elegant writing until I looked back over a stack too numerous to count.

    Summing it up brings me back to my birds, as I am visually oriented: the complexity of all three levels merges into a whole that depicts, in its myriad details, the inexorability of migratory experience—life moving on.

    It comes to no easy conclusions, though for me, at least, the reward—besides admiration of sheer craft—was in the deeply earned appreciation for the skein of family, loyalty, and finally, keeping trust in the little things that, cumulatively, add up to greatness.

    Copy provided by NetGalley

  • Book Riot Community
    Jan 25, 2017

    Sweeping multigenerational sagas are my jam, and this debut novel rings all my bells. It starts in NYC during the Great Depression, when Florence Fein leaves for a promising job in Moscow. But things are a lot more complicated than they seemed, and Florence ends up staying. Years later, her son Jacob travels to the US, but continues to work in Moscow while investigating his mother’s recently opened KGB file to learn more about her. What he discovers is part of a greater story of distrust and sec

    Sweeping multigenerational sagas are my jam, and this debut novel rings all my bells. It starts in NYC during the Great Depression, when Florence Fein leaves for a promising job in Moscow. But things are a lot more complicated than they seemed, and Florence ends up staying. Years later, her son Jacob travels to the US, but continues to work in Moscow while investigating his mother’s recently opened KGB file to learn more about her. What he discovers is part of a greater story of distrust and secrecy between the two countries. This poignant story of family, love, and secrets is a stunner.

    Backlist bump: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

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