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Small Acts of Kindness, a tale of the first Russian Revolution

Small Acts of Kindness, a tale of the first Russian Revolution

Author(s): Jennifer Antill

Location(s): St Petersburg (Leningrad)

Genre(s): Historical, Fiction

Era(s): 1825 to 1828

St Petersburg, 1825. Imperial Russia still basks in the light of glorious victory over Napoleon, but rising resentment against autocracy, enslavement and injustice threatens the state.
Vasily, a privileged, naïve young man returns from a tour of Europe destined for a career in the diplomatic service. Formerly uninterested in politics, he becomes aware of the lack of democracy in Russia and the plight of the enslaved serfs. He falls in love with Irina. Encouraged by his friend, Mikhail, an army officer and revolutionary who is betrothed to Vasily’s cousin, Lisa, Vasily joins a secret society aiming to overturn the government. The rebellion in Senate Square fails. Retribution is swift and Mikhail is condemned to 20 years in Siberian exile.
Vasily avoids capture due to Irina’s intervention. He hides at his country estates near Moscow, and later, believing Irina has left him, goes to work in the distant Russian provinces. He is pursued by Fedulov, a spy catcher who has a grudge against his family. Fedulov is killed, but not before he reveals Vasily’s identity to the local chief gendarme. The policeman has become convinced that Vasily is an honest man who has renounced violent revolution and is committed to bringing about change by more peaceful means. Turning a blind eye, he enables Vasily to return to St Petersburg where he is reunited with Irina. Lisa travels to Siberia to marry Mikhail.

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