I’m often asked to describe my genre.
My answer? I don’t really know.
As a reader, I love a variety of books from all genres. If pressed, I admit I write about war, revolution and history because that’s what interests me. I write about immigrants because that’s where my heart is. Ideas and characters come to me in a series of visual snapshots. If I can attach feelings and empathy to them, I know I have a story I can get excited about.
The Russian Tapestry is a tale of love and turmoil based on the true story of my husband’s grandparents. A romance that spans the years of the Russian revolution, it is set in the ballrooms of Moscow and St Petersburg, the streets of the rioting cities, and the POW camps.
I first became interested in the story of Marie and Alexei Serov when I started dating my now husband. Invited to his house for the first time, I noticed a painting of a military commander in full dress uniform, wearing a breast full of medals. Querying whom the man in the painting is, I was told he’s Mark’s grandfather, Alexei Serov. Further conversation revealed Alexei was a General in the Tsar’s Army and had fought on the Eastern Front in WWI. After the Russian revolution, Alexei was forced to join the Soviet Reds but later escaped, traversing through snow and blizzard to reach Lithuania.
Similarly, Marie Serov was also from Russia’s social elite. The daughter of a wealthy Estonian merchant, she was a Law student in Petrograd but was forced to abandon her studies when the revolution erupted. Engaged before the war, her fiancé went missing in action and never returned. She had three brothers, two of whom died from cholera during the German occupation of Estonia. The family later moved to Tallinn, where Marie and Alexei met.
As a long-time lover of Russian literature, I started imagining the glittering world Alexei and Marie inhabited before the Great War. Armed with only their obituaries, family anecdotes, and a handful of dusty photos, I set about writing The Russian Tapestry. Alexei and Marie’s story, their love affair, and events that led to their migration to Australia is a tapestry of family and Russian history, a weaving of family legend with fact and make-believe with the truth. It is the bringing together, unlocking and sharing of the stories that bind us.
It remembers those who have come before us.
I can only hope by having told their story, I have done justice to Marie and Alexei’s memory.
The Russian Tapestry is available from the following outlets: