Back
Jocelyn Parr: Uncertain Weights and Measures (2017, Goose Lane Editions) 3 stars

378 pages : 21 cm

Study of a relationship from Lenin to Stalin

3 stars

I read the first half of this book in fits and starts over 3 years and the last half in a week. I don't think the book changed - I think I did and was able to appreciate it more. The main character is a young woman who truly believes in the potential and promise of the Russian Revolution and becomes a scientist. The book chronicles her relationship to and understanding of science and her artist partner through the political changes between the revolution and the lead up to WWII.

You can tell Parr is a historian - and it's to the story's benefit. It can be difficult with hindsight to understand how people thought and why they acted as they did. But Parr understands the time and its ideas. Her characters aren't railing against the Soviet state from the vantage point of 100 years on, but are young adults excited or wary to be part of an enormous change in their country and the world.

She treats her characters with such kindness and respect even when they're wrong - maybe even especially when they're wrong.