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Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois

[ 38 ] March 25, 2012 |

Please join Jennifer DuBois, author of A Partial History of Lost Causes, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy below.

Reviewed by Nina Longfield

Jennifer DuBois’ A Partial History of Lost Causes begins in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) during the waning days of the Soviet Union. We meet Aleksandr, a rising chess prodigy. Aleksandr, from a small village on the Pacific edge of the Soviet Union, is thrust into the cold city and the changes enveloping the country.

Jump ahead almost thirty years to Cambridge, Massachusetts and meet Irina, a young woman who feels she is a lost cause. Irina lost her father to the slow degeneration of Huntington’s disease. Irina is intelligent, has a PhD in Literature, and should be embracing the possibilities of life. Instead, she is convinced that she is carrying the genetic code of Huntington’s and has deemed herself a lost cause.

With her father’s passing, Irina comes across a letter her father once wrote to Aleksandr. Her father, a fan of Aleksandr’s chess prowess, wrote the letter regarding a chess match and how Aleksandr triumphed despite the presumed certainty of defeat. The letter was never answered. Aleksandr is now following his own lost cause as the unexpected politician contesting Putin’s reign. Desperate for an answer to her father’s question, Irina travels to Moscow in search of Aleksandr.

A Partial History of Lost Causes is beautiful and sad. DuBois’ writing is fluid. With little effort, she seems to capture the mood of her characters and their setting. The bleakness of Leningrad in winter comes through in shivering detail. It is the perfect setting for Irina’s search for the elusive Aleksandr and her answer. In a city that comes to embody Irina’s idea of lost causes, she begins to understand that she may be more than the sum of her genetics.

DuBois’ characters are well written. In spite of the prevalent sadness throughout A Partial History of Lost Causes, I still had hope for Irina’s and Aleksandr’s individual quests. Aleksandr comes across as bleak as the Russian winters that seem to saturate his life, yet there is a sardonic humor that softens and makes him likeable. Irina is pragmatic, resourceful and, under layers of surrender, she is determined. She hasn’t completely given in to the disease that could, someday, erode her mind. This underlying resolve to find an answer to lost causes compelled me to read in an attempt to understand Irina.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Dial Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Category: Genre Fiction, Historical, Literary, Literature & Fiction, Political

Comments (38)

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  1. 38
    techeditor says:

    Oh, why didn’t I enter this giveaway? This sounds great.

  2. 37
    Lori says:

    Sounds like a great weekend read!

  3. 36
    Dina says:

    It sounds like a beautifully written book that stays with the reader.
    Dina recently posted..#Linky for Your Give Aways Saturday: 4/7

  4. 35
    gail says:

    i like that it’s about a chess prodigy

  5. 34
    Maureen says:

    It looks like a story about an interesting woman.

  6. 33
    corey says:

    I enjoy any read – esp anything historical – fiction or not.

  7. 32

    Wow, five stars?! Sounds like I’d better find a copy of this for myself asap!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  8. 31

    […] 20th:  Broken TeepeeWednesday, March 21st:  The Literate Housewife ReviewMonday, March 26th:  Luxury ReadingWednesday, March 28th:  Book Club ClassicsThursday, March 29th:  BookNAroundMonday, April 2nd: […]

  9. 30
    Diane Bojda says:

    I love Russian history. My family is from Europe & some of them lived there during this era so I’m always interested in books about it. Thank you for the chance to win it.

  10. 29
    Angela M says:

    I’ve been wanting to learn a bit more about the history surrounding The Soviet Union, etc. and I like that it is also very well reviewed.

  11. 28
    Kitty says:

    Enjoy reading books set in the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe former Soviet Bloc countries.

  12. 27
    Anita Yancey says:

    I like the storyline, and think it would be a very interesting book. Thanks for having this giveaway.

  13. 26
    Sammi says:

    the historical/cultural aspect appeals to me – I like a more serious book

  14. 25
    l p says:

    Russia and Russian people.

  15. 24
    Rachel W. says:

    I really like historical fiction that takes place in Russia- thanks for the giveaway!

  16. 23
    Stephen Wilson says:

    I have been fascinated by Russian history for many years. Was fortunate to be able to visit St. Petersburg and it is a fascinating and beautiful city

  17. 22
    Linda Peters says:

    sounds like a fantastic read, thanks

  18. 21
    Aliya D. says:

    I have always had a fascination with Russian history, people and the quintessential character of the Russian people which leans towards the practical, pragmatic if not outright depressive… I would love to read this book simply because it is about Russia and Russian literature. Thank you!

    Aliya D.

  19. 20
    Na says:

    I’ve always been drawn to WWII fiction, particularly Russian ones. This is looks at this in part and also into the future.

  20. 19
    Carol Wong says:

    Will be passing on this one. Although I love the subject, my TBR pile has several books set in Russia. I have to choose very wisely which depressing books to read and don’t want too many of them.


  21. 18
    Amy says:

    I have been interested in the Romanov family and Russia’s history at this time since high school so I am very excited about this book.
    Amy recently posted..~ First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros ~

  22. 17

    Reminds me kind of the style of The Reader, which I loved.

    Thanks for the chance!
    Michelle Stockard Miller recently posted..Book Tour: Review–The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

  23. 16
    Liz V. says:

    So much mystery, wrapped in an enigma, that any book seems enlightening–at the least, about the evil.

  24. 15
    rhonda says:

    avid historical fiction reader.

  25. 14
    Linda Kish says:

    It does sound sad but somehow I think something positive will come out of all the sadness.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  26. 13
    Miss. Lucinda Fountain says:

    This book looks increadible and not just because i am a lover of historical fiction but also the storyline sounds utterly facinating & intreguing that i am definately adding this book to my to-read list! Thank you for a really great book giveaway. x

  27. 12
    Dia says:

    I’m a total history junkie and I LOVE Russia. One of my best friends is from Russia and I would love to get this for her.

  28. 11
    Margaret says:

    Sounds like a great story. I love epic types!

  29. 10
    Sandra K321 says:

    I’m really not sure what appeals to me the most about this book. The daughter needs to go on this journey because maybe she sees it as a link to some reason that maybe she does have a purpose and a reason to go on.

  30. 9
    andalene says:

    I’ll read anything – and it sounds interesting.

  31. 8
    Colleen Turner says:

    This sounds really interesting. The idea of these “lost causes” as they see it being surrounded by a depressing winter in Russia and facing difficult lives and somehow finding hope for their life is an aspiring message. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  32. 7
    Chrissy says:

    It sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the giveaway!
    Chrissy recently posted..I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

  33. 6
    Victoria Zumbrum says:

    This book sounds really interesting. Thanks for the giveaway.

  34. 5
    techeditor says:

    The setting of this book, “St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) during the waning days of the Soviet Union,” attracts me to this book.

  35. 4
    Lisa Garrett says:

    I would love to see what happens when they meet.

  36. 3
    debbie says:

    It would take alot of courage to try to find that answer. I would love to see what happens when and if she does.

  37. 2
    Justine says:

    I haven’t read enough books set in Russia!

  38. 1
    Krista says:

    This books sounds good, but sad. Thanks for the chance to win.

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