Name: Eliisabet Martovna Kutuzova
Date of birth: Late 1899
Place of birth: Estonia
Year I created her: 1993
Role: Main character, Not Protagonist
Eliisabet is the child of Mart Gustavovich Kutuzov and Lidiya Avgustovna Baranova. She had an older brother named Oskar, five years her senior. In April 1917, they moved to Moskva with two families they’d always been best friends with, the Voroshilovs and the Nikonovs. And just about a week later, Eliisabet’s house was set on fire while she was packing up to leave during a brutal Bolshevik rampage on her Tsarist street. Her new boyfriend Aleksey Vladimirovich Trotskiy was taking a walk when he realized whose house was on fire, and ran inside to save her. Eliisabet’s parents and brother were trapped by the flames, but she was still able to be reached.
When Aleksey arrived back at his house, his parents were gone and the house was looted. So they just started running, and eventually ran into an upper-class peasant couple in the business of aiding anti-Bolsheviks. Together with Lyuba, her cousin, Ivan, and Boris, they were taken into hiding near Ryazan. Aleksey lied to their protectors that they were cousins so they could stay together. That first night in hiding, they conceived Nikolay, and five months after Nikolay’s premature birth, they were married. Through everything in the first and second books, Eliisabet and Aleksey have always been the rock-solid couple, viewed as perfect by their friends with troubled relationships.
Eliisabet eventually becomes Lyuba’s best female friend. She has a very caring, understanding nature, and is feminist and empowered in the way a woman could be in that era. She’s also a fellow Lucy Stoner, and doesn’t stop working, once in America, just because she’s added to her family. Her younger children stay with Lyuba during the day while she goes to work. Eliisabet is always the voice of reason, someone her friends can trust and confide in, who urges people to think things through logically instead of jumping to the wrong conclusion based on misleading information. And once they’ve started resettling in Minnesota in the second book, she repays Lyuba for all her years of free babysitting by looking after Lyuba’s own children during the day while Ivan is at work.
Here are some representative Eliisabet lines:
“We’re women now, seventeen years old, not little girls anymore, and every woman deserves a good man who loves her, protects her, and makes her happy,” Eliisabet continues. “I believe in women’s suffrage and other progressive causes, just like you, but that doesn’t negate my wanting some more traditional things too.”
“I think it’s long past time you were honest with both of them. If you really prefer Iván, it’s dishonest to have them switch turns and pretend you only like both of them as friends. I can see it all over your face. That’s the man you love. If you lead Malenkov on, things might get more complicated than you bargained for. It’s easier to level with someone before things go too far than it is to jilt someone who thinks he’s your beau.”
“Well, whatever your reason, I hope you’re able to confide in me someday. I know we don’t know each other very well yet, but I already consider you a good friend, and I’d never go around spreading my friends’ personal business. You were my midwife, and yours were the first hands to ever touch my baby. We share a special bond after that. If it’s because something awful was done to you to make you distrust nice guys’ intentions, I’d never tell such a painful secret to anyone. And I would never judge or blame you if something horrible was done to you against your will. God knows there’s a double standard. A man can have premarital relations with a hundred women and be lauded for it, while if a woman is caught just once having intimacy before marriage, people think she’s a whore and a fallen woman. Just remember what I told you, it’s always better to choose the man you love, even if it hurts the feelings of your competing suitor.”
“What? A fellow kisses you, and you think that makes you beholden to him? I know kissing is more personal than just holding hands, but this is the twentieth century! What kind of people have you been hanging around if you think you’re only allowed to be kissed by a man you want to marry, or even a serious beau? Not that I think you should go around kissing every man in the neighborhood, but it’s not like you’re a whore if you kiss a few guys you don’t want to get serious with!”
Eliisabet unbuttons her blouse and positions Nikoláy at her breast. “Even a Lillian Gish type would be considered innocent if a man of ill repute forced a kiss on her. But you have to come clean as soon as possible.”
“This is just what I warned you about,” Eliisabet whispers. “For your own sanity, I urge you to jilt Borís sooner and not later. The longer these so-called relationships continue, the more scandalous it will look to break things off, and the harder it will be to break things off period, scandal or no scandal.”
“Ginny was jumping on it really hard, and right before he stopped, the slats broke and he poked a huge hole in the mattress,” Eliisabet says. “Honestly, Pyotr, we’re all fed up by this brat. Can’t you find a home to stick him in, or better yet, a box for him to live in?” (This is one of my all-time favoritest Eliisabet lines, and among the small percentage of original 1993 material I kept in.)
“Pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period are very emotional, vulnerable times for a woman!” Eliisabet pleads. “And you know her history with difficult pregnancies and births. I wouldn’t put it past that snake to have lied his way into bed with her and taken advantage of her in a very fragile situation. Perhaps she was so sick she didn’t even know what she was doing. I’ve read stories where women, under various circumstances, mistake other men for their husbands. Sometimes it’s because of the man’s deception, other times it’s because the woman genuinely believed he was her husband. Has she ever done anything like this your entire marriage?”
“If she were going to cheat on you with Borís, don’t you think she would’ve done it a lot sooner? Why wait till your separation was almost over? This makes no sense!”
“But you were the only one she loved, the only man in her heart all along! Going back to Borís now is completely out of character! That would erase all the progress she’s made since your marriage! Yes, the old Lyuba would’ve left you for Borís when she got scared or when things got a little rough, but not the Lyuba who’s been your wife for six years. Do you realize how much emotional growth she’s undergone? She’s so much more mature and stable now. Her issues of fear and insecurity are things of the past. She’s plenty healed from what her blood father did to her. She’ll probably never completely get over all those traumatic years she suffered at his hands, but now she’s no longer completely governed by it. She knows she deserves a good man and doesn’t think she has to be with an evil man who abuses her. Even if Borís makes more money than you, he doesn’t treat her well. She values your love too much.”