HOMECOMING by Elsa Posell


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From an author better known for her nonfiction, a harrowing survival story (unfortunately given the same title as a novel by Cynthia Voigt) set in the early days of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Koshanaskys are Ukrainian Jews, family of a tsarist official who, in danger, disappears soon after the local Bolshevik takeover. Mrs. Koshanasky is left to guide her six children through exile from their house to servants' quarters, where they try to grow their own food and endure the suspicions of neighbors and the tyranny of successive armies who take over their town and their former home. Finally, they learn that Mr. Koshanasky has escaped to America, but an official with an ancient grudge against them stops all further contact. The mother's strength ebbs; eventually she dies of exhaustion, heartbreak and hunger. In the final third of the book, the children escape into Poland and across Europe to a boat to America. The events are related through the eyes of Olya, a middle girl who seems about ten years old; the narrative has a childlike feel, with deprivations made painfully concrete and outrage never far beneath the surface. A more disengaged voice might have given more context and understanding; still, this is a strong, suspenseful historical novel with the feel of autobiography.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Page count: 213pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich