Seagulls Gathered on the Wind (1957–64):
Sonya is very excited to leave rural Minnesota behind for the excitement of New York City. As she settles into Katrin’s penthouse the summer before starting Barnard, she wonders how her parents and their friends ever could’ve voluntarily left this city to become farmers in the Midwest.
Upon starting her first semester, however, Sonya is quickly disillusioned at how many of her classmates are only interested in earning a Mrs. degree and focusing on social life. She’s there to soak in the experience of the big city, expand her mind, take advantage of the intellectual environment, and learn about things no one ever dreamt of teaching in Minnesota.
Sonya’s luck starts turning around when she makes friends with Polya Minina, the daughter of her mother’s secret friends Alya Minina and Anya Furtseva. Not only is Polya a fellow intellectual who’s passionate about women’s rights and other political and social issues, but she’s a first-year graduate student at CCNY.
This sophisticated older friend suggests her twin brother Adrian as a great match for Sonya, and their connection is immediate. Sonya can hardly believe a graduate student would be interested in a first-year college student, let alone regard her as his intellectual and social equal.
Sonya and Adrian’s passion leads them into crossing the point of no return before they’ve even discussed marriage. As time goes on, Sonya begins pressing him for marriage, and questioning why she’s never met his parents. Adrian keeps saying his family situation is too complicated for her to understand, and that this strange situation automatically prevents him from marrying anyone.
Sonya is overcome with shock when, with the most awkward timing possible, she finally discovers just who Adrian and Polya’s parents are. As modern and progressive as she is, she can’t bring herself to make a life with someone who’s been raised by a lesbian couple. Sonya doesn’t think they’re immoral, but can’t bear that kind of stigma and secrecy.
A brief, passionate reunion after their breakup leaves Sonya pregnant, but she can’t bring herself to tell Adrian until the sixth month, on the eve of going home to Minnesota to break the news to her parents. Sonya won’t hear of either having an illegal abortion or giving her baby for adoption.
Adrian refuses to let Sonya leave town without trying one last time to win her back and remind her of what a perfect match they are. He plans to get on that train, posing as her estranged husband, and leave with her as his soon-to-be-bride.
Meanwhile, Lyuba and Ivan’s youngest child, Tamara, has also come to New York for college, and is staying at Katrin’s penthouse too. Tamara soon finds herself embroiled in a secret romance of her own, with Katrin’s only son Marek.
It was one thing for Lyuba’s baby brother Osyenka to marry Katrin’s firstborn Oliivia, but it’s another matter entirely when one of Lyuba and Ivan’s own children falls in love with someone who’s neither Orthodox nor of any Russian blood. And while Ivan has grown to tolerate Katrin and even enjoy her company in moderation, marriage between their children is entirely another matter.
But as their firstborn grandchild Kira’s marriage to Pyotr’s son Adam poignantly reminds them, they’re not the leading generation anymore. Not all change has to be bad.