JOURNEY INTO FIRE by Patricia Wright


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A reliably sad tale--that of a decent and sensitive man forced to act within murderous events--follows, with mournful respect, the career of Russian Kolya, grandson of a count. A pre-Revolution youth in St. Petersburg with his widowed English grandmother promises much, perhaps a career in music, but, as he says later, ""I am someone who wants to become a musician and has become a murderer."" One of many starved remnants of the army in WW I, Kolya joins the Party for the ""new dawn"" and survives the blood bath to become, in the Twenties, Director of a Sovkhoz (State) Farm. There he is momentarily at peace with physician wife Anna, two children, and the conviviality of his collective, but Stalinist oppression and purges lose him his job and family and send him to prison and torture. Miraculously, he is released to command in WW II, is reunited with Anna, and, barely escaping another prison sentence, lives long enough to lend his name to a group protesting the 1968 takeover in Czechoslovakia. As for the Revolution, Kolya remains faithful, but with the certainty that ""A man betrays himself by what he does, not what he says,"" and this is an indictment of obscene means for noble ends. Wright's detail is knowing but not necessarily telling--she must, after all, work from the givens available to a non-Russian outsider--and, if this chronicle of terror, loss, and rare oases of love lacks a sharp edge, it is nonetheless well-meaning, functional, and moderately moving.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday