A People Without a Past
This is the second volume of Jan Kross’s acclaimed historical trilogy, ‘Between Three Plagues’. Vol 1, ‘The Ropewalker’, followed our hero, a Livonian wagoner’s son, from childhood to his mid-twenties. Rich in detail and atmospheric, it is a tour de force; a long and involving read that will stay with you. Written in the 1970s, it is only now being translated. Kross also wrote a superb novel called ‘The Czar’s Madman’, set in 1820s Estonia, about a nobleman involved in the Decembrist Revolt; although not articulated, there is a strong resonance with the USSR’s relations with Estonia – which now, unfortunately, has renewed force. Pitched as Estonia – and mainland Europe’s – answer to ‘Wolf Hall’, in fact it predated Mantel by 40 years. But it is comparable both in scope and force.