Monday, June 13, 2011

Wretched Land by Mila Komarnisky

Mila Komarnisky's Wretched Land is the evocative tale of a family that survives the odds and relies on love to carry them through the horrific events of 20th century Ukranian life. It is the story of a nation, told through the riveting and remarkable love story of a couple that faces insurmountable odds and tragedy.

Dmytro Verbitsky is an impoverished aristocrat who marries Khrystina, whose wealthy, land-owning family disapproves of her marriage, having previously arranged a marriage between Khrystina and their selection for her husband, the wealthy Pylyp Pokotailo, believing her to be "too young to make decisions" about her life. Khrystina tells her family that she is prepared for a life of hard work and refuses to dissolve her marriage, which they believe to be a mistake. Her family disowns her, telling her that she no longer has a mother or a father and sends her away. After her family's betrayal, Dmytro embraces Khrystina's shoulders and tells her, `Do not cry, my love. I am your family now and forever.'" It is this indivisible union that epitomizes their relationship and will guide them through the trials of marriage.

Through it all, their remarkable and passionate love buoys them and withstands every possible test and heartbreak, as Dmytro holds true to his promise to be her family forever. The couple faces World War I, Civil War, World War II, and Stalin's regime, among other tragic circumstances; however, Dmytro remains "strong-willed... so long as he had Khrystina by his side." In cold and harsh times, they raise a family that is filled with love and compassion, maintaining their hope for a better future for the Ukraine and for their family.

Komarnisky provides readers with a truly great literary work, inspired by history, interwoven with a tapestry of deeply moving themes, unparalleled in our generation--for this is the creation of literature rather than the mere creation of a story. Wretched Land is heart-rending, moving, impossible to put down, and even more impossible to forget.