Cover image for The little Russian
Title:
The little Russian
Author:
Sherman, Susan.
Personal Author:
Edition:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, [2012]

©2012
Physical Description:
591 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.
Summary:
Berta Alshonsky revels in childhood memories of her time spent with a wealthy family in Moscow, so different from her life as a grocer's daughter in the Jewish townlet of Mosny. So when a mysterious and cultured wheat merchant comes into the grocery, Berta falls in love. She's unaware that he is a member of The Jewish Worker's League, smuggling arms to the shtetls to defend against the pogroms sweeping the Little Russian countryside. Their marriage gives Berta the life she once had in Moscow - until a smuggling operation goes awry.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781410447678
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Berta Alshonsky revels in childhood memories of her time spent with a wealthy family in Moscow, so different from her life as a grocer's daughter in the Jewish townlet of Mosny. So when a mysterious and cultured merchant comes into the grocery, Berta falls in love. She's unaware that he is a member of The Jewish Worker's League, smuggling arms to the shtetls to defend against the pogroms sweeping the Little Russian countryside.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Sherman, cocreator of the popular Disney show That's So Raven, turns to fiction with this impressive debut, set in Russia during the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Berta is deeply depressed upon returning home to Cherkast after spending most of her childhood as a companion to the daughter of a wealthy Moscow family. After years filled with sleigh rides and lavish parties, she must now wait on customers in her family's grocery. Then she meets cultured wheat merchant Hershel Alshonsky, and it seems a prosperous life is once again in her grasp; however, she is unaware that Hershel, who lost his father in a pogrom, is in league with the Bund and illegally smuggling arms to the shtetls so that they might protect themselves. When one of his operations goes seriously awry, he begs her to leave the country with him, but, much like Scarlett O'Hara, she can't bear to give up her finery. She pays dearly for her vanity when Russia goes to war and she is stripped of everything, forced to use all of her wiles to keep her children clothed and fed. Sherman's sweeping saga works on multiple levels, from its grim depiction of war's depredations to its harsh portrayals of anti-Semitism to its fiery love story. A mesmerizing read.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Sherman, co-creator of the television show That's So Raven, makes an impressive fiction debut with an epic tale of war's transformative effects on one Russian woman and her family. As a teenage girl at the beginning of the 20th century, Berta Lorkis is sent from the Ukraine, or "Little Russia," to become a temporary playmate for a distant relation in Moscow, leaving behind her working-class Jewish family and becoming entranced with Moscow's sophistication and wealth. When her relation is married off, however, Berta is sent back to Mosny, where she longs for the luxurious life she'd grown accustomed to in the big city. After a year of misery, she marries the wealthy Haykel "Hershel" Gregorvich Alshonsky, and moves with him to a more affluent area where they start a family. Hershel, though a merchant, smuggles guns and helps his fellow Jews fight the Russian peasants. On the eve of WWI, a smuggling mission goes awry and Hershel must flee to America, but Berta refuses to go, preferring her life of leisure and finery over the potential hardships of a new country. But the war consumes her wealth and forces her evolution from vapid snob to endearing survivalist. As the novel progresses into the revolution, the narrative begins to feel rushed, but Sherman succeeds with her epic, sweeping arc and auspicious period setting. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

When in 1903 Berta Lorkis is unceremoniously sent back to her family's village in Ukraine (Little Russia) after serving for years as the young companion to the daughter of a wealthy Jewish family in Moscow, she feels that her life is over. Then into her grocer father's store walks Hershel Alshonsky, an ambitious, well-to-do wheat merchant. The two fall in love, have two children, and enjoy a successful life in Cherkast. But to Berta's horror, she soon discovers that Hershel is a member of the Jewish Worker's League and supplies guns to the shtetlach to help them defend themselves against pogroms. When a smuggling action goes horribly wrong, Hershel must flee. Berta refuses to leave, and soon she and her children face unimaginable hardship and danger as the drumbeat of war comes ever nearer, eventually forcing them into a perilous journey to find Hershel in America. VERDICT Sherman's extraordinary debut novel plunges her readers into the bitter cold, deprivation, and upheaval of early 20th-century wartime Russia. Berta is a fascinating mix of petty vanity, devoted parenting, and breathtaking courage, fleshed out with cinematic detail that's both irresistible and spectacularly illuminating. All fiction readers will enjoy.-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.