Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
In 1880, Russia yet rumbles with unrest and rebellious underground plans to overthrow the tsar. Amid the turmoil, the saga of two families—the aristocratic house of Fedorcenko and the peasant Burenin family—continues in Travail and Triumph by authors Michael Phillips and Judith Pella.
Travail and triumph are right, although considering the novel’s length and the time it commits to each, it’s super-heavy on the travail (close to a Shakespearean dramatic tragedy level in key respects) and ultra-light on the triumph.
There’s still much along the lines of melodramatic caricature in the characterizations, from overdone sweetness in one to overdone evilness in others, along with an overuse of exclamation points at times, which can make the dialogue and narration hard to take seriously. Due to the redundancy and the tale often idling in different characters’ bleak ruminations and circumstances, I feel this same story could have been told in significantly fewer pages without losing anything fresh or crucial.
Yet, while the storytelling style isn’t my favorite, I’ve gotten used to it enough to roll with it for the sake of the aspects that have me all in: the locations, the time period, and the historical context and events. Moreover, despite the characterizations, the personal events involving the cast have kept me intrigued. Perhaps with continued development, a character or two might grow on me yet.
After this is where Phillips bows out and Pella takes over the series solo for the last four novels. I’m interested in seeing what she does with it.
Here’s my review of Book One in The Russians series, The Crown and the Crucible.