This week, for the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest, we’re asked to go through the story arc for our main character and to visit other blogs to try to come up with a title for the other WIPs based on the information. The emphasis is on troubles our protagonists go through.
I’m sort of in between WIPs at the moment, having just finished my Russian novel sequel (at 406,000 glorious words) and going back through Adicia’s story to correct my embarrassing first draft error of not having any lefties. I’m writing in left-handedness for Adicia, Justine, Ernestine, Emeline, Allen, Lenore, Ricky, and the four Ryan siblings (Girl/Deirdre, Boy/David, Baby/Fiona, and Infant/Aoife). I really want to start the third book in my Russian characters’ family saga (set from 1933-48, in Minnesota, Manhattan, the Soviet Union, and some places in Europe), but I think it’s best to give those characters more of a break and just go onto the third book in Adicia’s family saga, the book focused on Justine and based on Margaret Sidney’s Phronsie Pepper. (I’m still not ready to return to the hiatused second book, the transitional book between Adicia’s story and Justine’s story.)
Even though the majority of my Russian novel sequel is set in Manhattan and Minnesota, it’s got the same spirit of the first book, the first half of which was primarily set in Russia. All the usual drama, emotion, melancholia, and intense things one associates with a Russian novel (or even just a Russian story). Lots of depressing, dramatic stuff happens before Lyuba and Ivan can finally have a happy ending, this time one that lasts.
As best as I can sum up a 406,000-word saga in a few paragraphs (without even getting into any of the subplots):
After all Lyuba and Ivan went through in the first book to finally become husband and wife and start to live happily ever after, trouble threatens again. It’s the beginning of a worsening pattern when Ivan comes home late from work on his and Lyuba’s first anniversary, which is also the first anniversary of their children’s baptism. He’s also been to visit his overbearing mother prior to coming home, which makes Lyuba even angrier. This soon turns into many late nights slaving for the Russian Uncle Tom who runs the iron factory, including some occasions when he spends several days in a row at work.
Worse yet, Ivan’s parents, whom Lyuba had been getting along very well with, are convinced Lyuba is going to attach horns to him with Boris (their former best friend and the blood father of Lyuba’s firstborn Tatyana) and think Lyuba is a horrible, mean, ungrateful wife because she dares to be upset over Ivan’s lack of attention to his family and doesn’t hesitate to call Ivan out about it.
Things get even worse when Ivan, following the lead of his best friends Aleksey and Nikolas, quits the iron factory, but unlike Aleksey and Nikolas, doesn’t immediately get a new, better-paying job. Lyuba is quickly at her wits’ end by Ivan’s voluntary unemployment, which Ivan claims is his way of making up for all that lost time when he neglected his family duties. How dare he drive their family even deeper into poverty and make them live primarily on their savings. Ivan and Lyuba can’t pull in much money when they start working from home repairing small machinery and taking in sewing and washing, and Lyuba is horrified to learn their savings has dwindled to almost nothing after Ivan spent an exorbitant sum on a first birthday present for their fourth child Katya, a carousel rocking horse better-suited to some rich uptown child.
She’s reduced to begging from their former friends Alya and Anya, who take pity on Lyuba and her children and agree to give, not loan, her money on a regular basis, provided she come by to visit them every week and genuinely rekindle their friendship. At this point, Lyuba has nothing left to lose, even knowing what her husband and friends would say if they discovered she’s restarted her friendship with their shunned lesbian friends. And when Lyuba’s four children come down with whooping cough in late 1928 and their apartment is quarantined, she can take it no more and runs away to stay with Alya and Anya for two weeks. She’s stuck in quarantine there too, as a safety precaution, but at least a nice apartment in Greenwich Village, conversation with other adults, and real food beats her depressing, bored housewife existence in the Lower East Side.
After Lyuba finally hits rock bottom upon her return, Ivan is woken up to the reality of how badly their marriage is in trouble and agrees to a temporary separation to save their marriage. He agrees to leave for Minnesota after Orthodox Christmas, joining their best friends Eliisabet and Aleksey and Kat and Nikolas in a Russian immigrant farming community. Lyuba says she’ll gradually resettle their four children and join him by the end of 1929.
But near the end of the separation, on the second day of the Stock Market Crash, Lyuba gives birth to her fifth child and has yet another difficult delivery and recovery period. Boris, who has long been waiting for the Konevs’ marriage to fall apart and has never hesitated to tell Lyuba, Ivan, and even their children what his dreams are, swoops in and takes advantage of her diminished postpartum state. By the time Lyuba realizes what Boris has been doing to her, she’s overcome with horror and disgust. Worse yet, Boris has already written Ivan letters full of lies, one from him pretending to be her.
She knows it’s going to take a lot to convince Ivan this time she didn’t voluntarily have a relationship with Boris, but she’s determined to save her marriage and put her family back together again. And once again it seems as though there’s a false start to their happy ending, since there’s one remaining complication that has to be resolved before Boris will finally leave them alone forever.