International Writers Inspiring Change book review: MASHKA, a haunting historical narrative, by Sophia Gallegos

A haunting historical narrative heralding the end of a Russian era

Mashka, by Sophia Gallegos, is a haunting historical narrative. Set in 1917, when the Bolshevik revolution deposed the Tzar and led the way for a Communist state, Mashka, the nickname for the Tzar’s daughter, tells the story about what happened, taking the reader inside the life of her family and the ordeals they endured and suffered when the Bolsheviks forced them into exile to a remote region of Russia, where they lived in an abandoned house, under house arrest and constant guard, fearing every day for their lives, and yet still holding to a naïve optimism that someone might come along and save them. Mashka, whose actual name is Maria, is coming of age when her world is turned upside down, and despite her circumstances, she finds love with a guard, whose job is to prevent their escape, and yet, who tries to help rescue her from their inevitable fate. It’s a haunting narrative because anyone who knows the history of the last Tzar of Russia, knows that their end was a terrible one; and yet, the naivety of Mashka and her siblings pulls on one’s heart strings throughout the story, reminding us just how horrible war is, and that no child should have to pay the price for the mistakes of their parents. Well-written with a sophisticated language suited to the period.

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