2 out of 4 stars
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A Cossack's House is “a psychological drama thriller” from the Other Fiction genre. The amorphous architecture of the writing echoes a confusing tale. Marie Washtag, the author, is a Serbian writer who reflects in her work the interhuman connections between foreigners and locals in Russia, situated in the land of the Cossacks.
Diana, the main character, is a young Serbian woman in her 20s who spends a vacation in Russia, at the home of Giza, her widowed grandmother. Giza was married to a Cossack and her house was located in the Don Cossack’s region, near the Don River. This is where she meets Anatoly, a neighbour from across the street, with whom she begins a romance. She is forced to return to her native country when her visa expires, but they promise each other that they will find a way to be together.
She returns 10 years later, after her grandmother’s demise, to claim the house that she has been left to her as an inheritance. Thus, Diana found herself all alone among strangers, with no knowledge of the Russian language, and surrounded by people who conspire against her, all trying to get their hands on the most coveted house in that region. She was considered an outsider – this is the main reason why she encounters difficulties in legalizing the inherence documents.
But, what happened to Anatoly? To their love? Did he wait for her? Does Diana manage to make friends among the Russian people? Will she, a foreigner and a Cossack’s heiress, win the fight with Russian bureaucracy?
The book was translated from Serbian to English, but in an ad-litteram mode. With due respect, I suggest that the author accompany her work with professional editing. Without an elementary introduction or a brief portrayal of the characters, the reading experience became entangled and constantly baffling. I read the .doc version, which hampered the experience and kept it from being relaxed and cordial, due to the small font and the unnumbered pages (I couldn’t bookmark where to pick up reading whenever I stopped). Dividing the book into chapters might also help. The book's lack of structural organization gave me the impression of being the electronic diary of an aspirant lady who writes down her unfiltered thoughts.
The premise of the book is sui generis, and in spite of its potential, all the grammar and punctuation errors (on nearly every page), the misspelling, the lack of any coherent structure to the content, the constant feeling of not knowing who, when, or how, and the fog that filled my head left me flabbergasted, and I could only give the book 2 out of 4 stars. However, I’m thankful that this story has driven me into doing more thorough research of the Cossacks’ history and culture, and it has made me feel richer than I was yesterday.
I would recommend A Cossack's House to those readers who are willing to ignore the bumpy editorial style and enjoy a mixture of a love story, a look at the moral nature of people in realistic situations, and a coeval story of the Cossack region of Russia.
A Cossack's House
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