Synopses & Reviews
"Set during the waning days of the Russian revolution, Meek's utterly absorbing novel (after The Museum of Doubt) captivates with its depiction of human nature in all its wartime extremes. In 1919, the remote Siberian town of Yazyk contains a strange brew of humanity: the docile members of a mystical Christian sect, whose longing for purity drives them to self-mutilation; a small outfit of Czech troops, marooned by the civil war and led by the mad cocaine-snorting Captain Matula; and 'the widow' Anna Petrovna, whose passion for worldly things (e.g., photography and men) isolates her from the devout townspeople. When the charismatic revolutionary, Samarin, trudges into town with a harrowing tale of escape from a distant labor camp and a dangerous philosophy, Yazyk becomes a theater of bloodshed and betrayal as well as heroism and compassion. Using the town as a microcosm of the larger war, Meek illuminates both perverted ideology and irrepressible humanity. With confident prose, layered storytelling and prodigious imagination, he combines scenes of heart-pounding action and jaw-dropping revelations with moments of quiet tension and sly humor. This original, literary page-turner succeeds both with its credible psychological detail and in its grandeur and sweep. Six-city tour. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"There are so many good things about this novel that one wants to praise it to the skies: exotic setting, well-drawn characters, historical accuracy, intriguing plot." Library Journal
In the outer reaches of a country recently torn apart by civil war lives a small Christian sect and its enigmatic leader, Balashov. Anna Petrovna, a beautiful, restless photographer, is raising her young son by herself amid this brutal landscape. Stationed nearby is a company of Czech soldiers, desperate to get home but on the losing side of the recent conflict. Each soldier lives in a fragile co-existence and a troubling uncertainty prevails. Into this isolated community trudges Samarin, an escapee from Russia's northernmost prison camp. Immediately apprehended, he is brought before Captain Matula, the Czech company's megalomaniac commander. But the stranger's appearance has caught the attention of others, including that of Anna Petrovna. And when a local shaman is found murdered, suspicion and terror engulf this village. To be published in twenty countries, The People's Act of Love is quite simply magnificent storytelling and it promises to be an auspicious literary event.