THE WEEPING AND THE LAUGHTER by Noel Barber

THE WEEPING AND THE LAUGHTER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Run-of-the-mill adventure about a Russian family escaping the Bolsheviks, from veteran pulper Barber (The Other Side of Paradise, 1987; Sakkara, 1985; etc.). Prince Dmitri Korolev and his wife, their twin sons, Nikki and Rudi, and daughter Galina are trying to escape the terrible rage of the Reds as the novel opens in 1919. At a port on the Baltic Sea, the Princess is killed and Rudi disappears, but Dmitri, Galina, and Nikki make it to Switzerland and eventually to Paris. There, narrator Nikki tells of his slightly impoverished but rather charmed life amongst the Russian ÉmigrÉ community; his aunt Olga shows up (with luscious cousin Natasha) and starts a dressmaker's shop that attracts the likes of Gloria Swanson; and Sister Galina becomes a ballerina of some renown. But all does not go well as WW II consumes the world and the Nazis occupy France. Dmitri kills himself, Galina is interrogated by the Gestapo, and Aunt Olga takes to sleeping with a German officer. Meanwhile, Nikki--now working for the Red Cross--marries Natasha, but then hears from the frantic Olga that Natasha and he are actually brother and sister, not cousins. Nonetheless, they survive the war--when, lo and behold, Rudi turns up, an emaciated wreck, in a POW camp. He had been saved from the Reds by a kindly peasant couple, raised as a good young Communist peasant, sent to fight the Germans, captured, and then forced to wear a German uniform. Nikki helps save him from being sent back to Russia--and Rudi in turn brings the news that Nikki and Natasha are not brother and sister, and that a certain fabulous emerald necklace is hidden in a childhood toy. A merely adequate treatment of a by-now thoroughly familiar story--with Barber adding no new twists.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1988
Publisher: McGraw-Hill