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Excellent novel of the Russian Revolution
There are many things about White Blood that make it a remarkable novel. Fleming focuses on how Russia’s upper middle class were affected by the Revolution, as opposed to writing his novel from the point of view of the revolutionaries, which I found unusual. It’s taut and well-written, conveying a huge sense of time and place, particularly in the second half of the book. The reader can almost feel and even smell the Russian winter. The novel is brutal, but the violence isn’t indiscriminant. These scenes don’t have the feeling of being inserted for the shock value – they feel “real.”
One of the things I found most impressive was that the author portrays a true sense of how people experience large-scale historic events like the Russian Revolution. There’s an awareness of a growing issue, but it’s distant, not something that touches you directly or really interferes with your life. It gradually grows, however, creeping ever nearer until you’re enveloped and it’s too late to escape. Fleming puts his characters in just such a situation. It’s both illustrative and frightening.
My only criticism would be that I found the first part of the novel superfluous. I found the writing and the story to be enjoyable, but completely unnecessary to the real heart of the book. It wasn’t boring, mind you, just out of place.