MARINA AND LEE by Priscilla Johnson McMillan
Kirkus Star

MARINA AND LEE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The stormy marriage of Marina Nikolayevna Prusakova, an illegitimate Russian teen-ager, and Lee Harvey Oswald, American defector in Minsk, was a bad Russo-American soap opera that intersected international politics. That, at least, is how McMillan--who once interviewed Oswald in Moscow--treats Marina and Lee whose muddled motives take on destressing psychological coherence here. McMillan, translator of Svetlana Alliluyeva's Only One Year, coaxed most of the domestic details out of Marina (not, one suspects, the most reliable of sources) including accounts of the Oswalds' bedroom habits and Lee's preoccupation with fathering a son who would be President of the United States. McMillan's own theories rest on the assumption that Oswald had an evil mother who set up his complex pattern of rejections (he spurned the US for Russia, later Russia for the US, and later still would have left the US for Cuba--had they let him come) which took a fatal turn after he abandoned the security of his job and friends in Minsk. In the US, his natural anomie worsened; he began to beat Marina, who, frightened and far from home, came back like a ""blind kitten""--or a masochist. The pattern of jobs lost and friends driven off-the Russian ÉmigrÉ community of Fort Worth-Dallas at first befriended them--had begun. As Oswald's domestic life became more unmanageable with Marina expecting a second child, he grew more and more immersed in his fantasy political world. Soon he was ordering rifles by mail and setting up a paper chapter of The Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Despite the barrage of questions Marina endured after the assassination, McMillan reports that she ""had been asked surprisingly little about herself and nothing at all about her feelings."" Leaving the more sinister speculations of FBI-CIA intrigue to others, McMillan gained Marina's confidence. She got a good deal of tacky melodrama for her pains, but also a story of undeniable human interest.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row