Have you seen the classic movie Dr. Zhivago? The first time I saw it, I was only a child. I loved the music. The images of the Russian people and their struggles during World War I stayed with me, even though I didn’t fully understand that war.
Several years ago, I was asked to write an activity book for young readers focusing on the inventions that took place during WWI. As I researched, I learned more about the sad plight of the Russian people during that time. I finally understood how they became so desperate that they accepted Lenin as their leader. But it wasn’t until I read The Silence of God by Gale Sears that I saw how a minority of well-organized people could take over a country. However, this book is so much more than just a historical account.
Sears sets her story in St. Petersburg and gives her readers a taste of what it was like during the turn of the twentieth century in Imperial Russia. She describes grand cathedrals, shows how faithful the populace was, and how they loved and revered Tsar Nicholas II and the Romanov family. But as World War I lingers on, and the Russian people are literally starving, revolution starts to boil.
A great deal of this story is seen through the eyes of Natasha Ivanovna Gavrilova. She doesn’t believe in God and supports those who want to overthrow the government. Thinking her cause is just, she helps write propaganda forwarding the Bolshevik revolution.
Other key characters in this story are the Lindlofs and their daughter, Agnes. She is Natasha’s best friend. Agnes and her family have three strikes against them in a communist society: they believe in God, are members of The Christ of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they’re wealthy. But this doesn’t stop Natasha from caring for her lifelong friend, Agnes. Their care and devotion to one another is heartwarming. As the story progresses things go from bad to worse for Agnes and her family.
As I read, I wondered would Natasha, a Bolshevik supporter, step in and help her friend? Would she have the courage to go against the authority of the Red Guard? Would she ever develop faith in God?
This wonderful, fictional story is rich with history. An interesting note to know as you read the book, the Lindlof family was a real family who were eyewitnesses to the Bolshevik revolution. What happened to them in this book were actual events. Sears writes, “It was an honor for me to place their story on paper.”
The story of Dr. Zhivago is a touching account of that tumultuous time. However, The Silence of God shows how faith in God, friends, and family can triumph.
(I purchased this book and reviewed it because I liked it.)
Kathi Oram Peterson is the mother of three, grandmother of two and wife of one. She has always loved books, whether she’s reading or writing them. Look for her latest release:
River Whispers in May 2011. Stop by her blog or website.
Photo by Marc Reynolds