IRENA by Jane Land


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These Tigers' Hearts (1978) featured the frenetic romance between young Astra and Polish widower Count Kulaski, member of the Austrian parliament -- and this is an equally busy 1880s sequel. The focus now is on the Count's spunky daughter Irena (Astra's stepdaughter), who impetuously leaves Vienna when she falls in love-and-marriage at first sight with exciting, singleminded Polish nationalist Anton. The newlyweds head for Anton's old family estate in the Russian occupied sector, where Anton plans to secretly print and distribute ""inflammatory leaflets."" But they're shocked to find the Russians more in evidence than expected: the estate's been stripped, Anton's widowed sister Natash and her children are scrambling for survival, and slimy Russian Capt. Kaledin has moved in, suspicious of Anton and lecherous toward Irena, who must lead him on a bit to help Anton. Then: disaster. Kaledin attempts rape and is shot by old servant Tadek; the printing press is discovered; and Anton awaits capture while Irena, Natash, and the kids flee, only to crash: Natash dies, Irena miscarries, and (now back in Vienna with nice Astra) both Irena and Natash's wee daughter go catatonic. Will they recover? Yes. But only after Anton is reported dead in Siberia and after attractively ugly Dr. Wolff (an oddly 20th-century breed of psychologist) removes everyone's guilt and wins Irena's love. But then . . . Anton reappears, alive -- and thoroughly loathsome! With a little suicide, however, all sorts out neatly -- in a bumpy but undeniably eventful gallop through 19th-century Poland and Austria.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday