In this witty and colourfully peopled novel, Caroline Adderson effortlessly plunges the reader into a nineteenth-century Russian tragicomedy. Aspiring painter Masha C. is blindly devoted to Antosha, her famous writer-brother. Through the years Antosha takes up with numerous women from Masha’s circle of friends, yet none of these relationships threaten the siblings’ close ties until the winter he falls into a depression. Then Masha invites into their Moscow home a young woman who teaches with her—the beautiful, vivacious and deeply vulnerable Lika Mizanova—with the express hope she might help Antosha recover.
The appearance of Lika sets off a convolution of unrequited love, jealousy and scandal that lasts for seven years. If the famously unattainable writer has lost his heart to Lika as everyone claims, why does he undertake a life-threatening voyage to Sakhalin Island? And what will happen to Masha if she is demoted from “woman of the house” to “spinster sister”? While Antosha and Lika push and pull, Masha falls in love herself—with a man and with a mongoose—only to have her dreams crushed twice. From her own heartbreak Masha comes to recognize the harm that she has done to her friends by encouraging their involvement with Antosha, but it is too late for Lika, who will both sacrifice herself for love and be immortalized as the model for Nina in Chekhov’s The Seagull.
A Russian Sister offers a clever commentary on the role of women as prey for male needs and inspiration, a role they continue to play today. At the same time the novel is a plea for sisterhood, both familial and friendly. Chekhov’s The Seagull changed the theatre. A Russian Sister gives the reader a glimpse behind the curtain to the fascinating real-life people who inspired it and the tragedy that followed its premiere.
About the author
Caroline Adderson is the author of Very Serious Children (Scholastic 2007), a novel for middle readers about two brothers, the sons of clowns, who run away from the circus. I, Bruno (Orca 2007) and Bruno for Real are collections of stories for emergent readers featuring seven year-old Bruno and his true life adventures.
Caroline Adderson also writes for adults and has won two Ethel Wilson Fiction Prizes, three CBC Literary Awards, as well as the 2006 Marion Engel Award given annually to an outstanding female writer in mid-career. Her numerous nominations include the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Rogers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Most recently, Caroline was the Vancouver Public Library's 2008 Writer-in-Residence.
Her eight year-old son Patrick and his many friends inspire her children's writing. Caroline and her family live in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Other titles by Caroline Adderson
Sunny Days Inside
and Other Stories
Pierre & Paul: Dragon!
Izzy in the Doghouse
It Happened on Sweet Street
Pierre & Paul: Avalanche!
Best Canadian Stories 2019
The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat, Adventuring Cat
Jasper John Dooley: Public Library Enemy #1
Narratives of Demolition and Revival