Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Moderator
Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Leo and Raisa

I am certain that each of these characters needs an individual thread, but I also want a thread to talk specifically about their relationship! I was entirely taken by the sharply drawn, careful, painful development of the relationship that builds between these two startling characters! Were you? They are such an unusual couple of heroines. What do you make of this marriage? How do you feel for each of them?
 
Did you start the book having more sympathy for one of them, and does this change as the novel progresses?
 
In what ways do we see them work together, and in what ways do they work against each other?
Contributor
Simple1
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎06-02-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Leo and Raisa

As I continue to read, I do agree that the pair is unusual as their individual stories unfold. Their marriage on the surface seemed stereotypical at first. As they are challenged by the circumstances of defending Raisa's innocence and eventual exile to Voualsk I truly appreciate how Tom allows each of their emotions to be raw, yet believable. This relationship is so universal and surpasses time. The way their relationship unfolds and the penned up feelings come to light could very well happen to any marriage today anywhere in the world.
 
In the beginning there was no sympathy for either character. There is a certain level of empathy for both characters the more I read the story. I can understand Leo's commitment to his country and the mission of the State. I can also understand Raisa's fears of Leo and turning him down.
 
They begin to really work together in the forest when Leo looks for evidence. I believe that was the true turning point for their marriage. That arrangement may have initially been essentially a business agreement, but this is something that they now share and are for the most part on a true level playing field. Leo is an entry level militia personnel and Raisa is a teacher. Leo no longer is in a position of authority or influence. They now no longer have anything more to lose (except their lives, but at times it's as if death would be the better option for them).
 
I think there are times when the work against other when they reacted to each other's feelings and actions. Leo drove a wedge when he choked her out of anger and hurt. Raisa certainly hurt Leo when she revealed that she was not pregnant.
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Leo and Raisa



Simple1 wrote:
As I continue to read, I do agree that the pair is unusual as their individual stories unfold. Their marriage on the surface seemed stereotypical at first. As they are challenged by the circumstances of defending Raisa's innocence and eventual exile to Voualsk I truly appreciate how Tom allows each of their emotions to be raw, yet believable. This relationship is so universal and surpasses time. The way their relationship unfolds and the penned up feelings come to light could very well happen to any marriage today anywhere in the world.
In the beginning there was no sympathy for either character. There is a certain level of empathy for both characters the more I read the story. I can understand Leo's commitment to his country and the mission of the State. I can also understand Raisa's fears of Leo and turning him down.
They begin to really work together in the forest when Leo looks for evidence. I believe that was the true turning point for their marriage. That arrangement may have initially been essentially a business agreement, but this is something that they now share and are for the most part on a true level playing field. Leo is an entry level militia personnel and Raisa is a teacher. Leo no longer is in a position of authority or influence. They now no longer have anything more to lose (except their lives, but at times it's as if death would be the better option for them).
I think there are times when the work against other when they reacted to each other's feelings and actions. Leo drove a wedge when he choked her out of anger and hurt. Raisa certainly hurt Leo when she revealed that she was not pregnant.






I think you're right - the real change comes when they begin to work together. That was always what interested me from the beginning, creating a personal story that wasn't merely an aside, a note in the margin. Raisa and Leo's relationship is at the heart of the narrative. They have to work together in order to survive and have any chance at success.

In a very literal sense they become partners - that word meaning more than just a couple, but partners in the investigation. And they both have very different skills which are needed in combination. Raisa is shrewd, perceptive. But she is also very cautious. Leo is bold, idealistic, headstrong. But he is not canny, which is interesting since normally detectives are defined by their ability to see clearly. Raisa is constantly having to pull things into focus for him.


Learn more about Child 44.
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Leo and Raisa

The incident when they're both on the run, and need help of the villagers in the nearby collective farm... was a defining moment in their relationships. (p. 374)

Leo wanted to steal from the villagers while they were in the fields. Raisa was astonished at his reaction. She says to him:

"Leo, you've worked in the Lubyanka for too long. These people have no love of the State... We have hundreds of kilometers to cross. We can't do it alone... We have to convince strangers to help us... we'll have to sell them our cause.... If you steal from these people, you'll be their enemy when we are in fact their friends."

That insightful incident demonstrated how clear-sighted Raisa truly was, a survivor, and she was the one who pulled things into focus for Leo. She was the yin to his yang.

I wonder how Leo will succeed at the end of the book when he heads his own investigation department. Will he have Raisa as his right-hand "man"?

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Leo and Raisa



IBIS wrote:
The incident when they're both on the run, and need help of the villagers in the nearby collective farm... was a defining moment in their relationships. (p. 374)

Leo wanted to steal from the villagers while they were in the fields. Raisa was astonished at his reaction. She says to him:

"Leo, you've worked in the Lubyanka for too long. These people have no love of the State... We have hundreds of kilometers to cross. We can't do it alone... We have to convince strangers to help us... we'll have to sell them our cause.... If you steal from these people, you'll be their enemy when we are in fact their friends."

That insightful incident demonstrated how clear-sighted Raisa truly was, a survivor, and she was the one who pulled things into focus for Leo. She was the yin to his yang.

I wonder how Leo will succeed at the end of the book when he heads his own investigation department. Will he have Raisa as his right-hand "man"?

IBIS




All I can say is that Raisa is as important in the second book as she is in the first.

How could she not be! I love her! I think she's wonderful.


Learn more about Child 44.
Inspired Wordsmith
CathyB
Posts: 271
Registered: ‎12-30-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Leo and Raisa

I am certain that each of these characters needs an individual thread, but I also want a thread to talk specifically about their relationship!  I was entirely taken by the sharply drawn, careful, painful
development of the relationship that builds between these two startling characters! Were you?

Definitely!  The characters were very well written!
 
What do you make of this marriage?

On the surface, it appears to be a typical marriage; however, as time goes on, both the fear and the truth
of it are revealed.  The fear that one is not really loved and the fear for one's own life.  The truth that it was
a matter of convience for one.
 
As the story unfolds, Leo and Raisa are thrust into circumstances beyond their control.  They decide to stay
together and become partners.  A much needed trust is developing between them.
 
How do you feel for each of them?

At first, I didn't like the character of Raisa.  I thought she was cold and definitely calculating.  True she was
calculating in order to survive but, at the expense of inflicting harm on another (the marriage and pregnancy).  The later revelation of the pain/torture that she endured in the past and in the present did allow
me to empathize with her.  Her character grew on me as the book progressed. 
 
I liked Leo from the start - I felt him to be a very sympathetic character from the start. 
 
Leo and Raisa  each have their strengths and weaknesses; however, they compliment one another.  Leo
needs Raisa to add a bit of reality to his world - he has been idealistic for too long. 
 
Did you start the book having more sympathy for one of them, and does this change as the novel
progresses?

I felt more sympathy towrads Leo from the start of the novel.  This sympathy grew as the novel progressed.
The upheaval of all that he believed, the betrayals (colleagues, Raisa), the humiliation, the physical torture
and the emotional torture only added to my feelings of sympathy towards him. 
 
In what ways do we see them work together, and in what ways do they work against each other?

Once they had been relocated and decided to stay together, I don't really see them working gainst each
other. 
 
CathyB
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Leo and Raisa



CathyB wrote:
I am certain that each of these characters needs an individual thread, but I also want a thread to talk specifically about their relationship! I was entirely taken by the sharply drawn, careful, painful
development of the relationship that builds between these two startling characters! Were you?

Definitely! The characters were very well written!
What do you make of this marriage?

On the surface, it appears to be a typical marriage; however, as time goes on, both the fear and the truth
of it are revealed. The fear that one is not really loved and the fear for one's own life. The truth that it was
a matter of convience for one.
As the story unfolds, Leo and Raisa are thrust into circumstances beyond their control. They decide to stay
together and become partners. A much needed trust is developing between them.
How do you feel for each of them?

At first, I didn't like the character of Raisa. I thought she was cold and definitely calculating. True she was
calculating in order to survive but, at the expense of inflicting harm on another (the marriage and pregnancy). The later revelation of the pain/torture that she endured in the past and in the present did allow
me to empathize with her. Her character grew on me as the book progressed.
I liked Leo from the start - I felt him to be a very sympathetic character from the start.
Leo and Raisa each have their strengths and weaknesses; however, they compliment one another. Leo
needs Raisa to add a bit of reality to his world - he has been idealistic for too long.

Did you start the book having more sympathy for one of them, and does this change as the novel
progresses?

I felt more sympathy towrads Leo from the start of the novel. This sympathy grew as the novel progressed.
The upheaval of all that he believed, the betrayals (colleagues, Raisa), the humiliation, the physical torture
and the emotional torture only added to my feelings of sympathy towards him.

In what ways do we see them work together, and in what ways do they work against each other?

Once they had been relocated and decided to stay together, I don't really see them working gainst each
other.
CathyB





Hi Cathy,

It's always completely fascinating to me hearing how people react to characters and how their reactions change during the reading of the book.

Personally I'm not sure I buy into the notion of typical marriages or relationships. There's normally something completely fascinating about them, sometimes its obvious, sometimes it's not. Admittedly, Leo and Raisa's relationship is extraordinary. They have both approached it in completely different ways. Leo has tried to build the perfect Soviet home life, a construct, completely artificial, and Raisa had played along because she saw that she had no other option.

Of course, the moment always excited me as a writer was when they both see each other for the first time, after all these years, they finally see the person they're married to and speak to each other directly. It's like they've always been talking to each other's shadows and now they face each other directly. The irony is this that it turns out they both like what they see!

I don't know if I was thinking about it at the time but it's certainly very easy to formulate reasons why you think you don't like someone. Raisa does that with Leo. He's MGB. He's a servant of a state she hates. But when she takes a closer look, she realizes at the root of this servitude is a hopeless romanticism.


Learn more about Child 44.
Moderator
Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Leo and Raisa

There was one fairly early scene that I really admired for how it demonstrated this off-kilter nature of their visions of each other. When Leo is in bed with a fever and delirious, he reminisces aloud about seeing her for the first time, and how beautiful she was, (and mentions that she lied to him about her name). This is the first time we've met Raisa, and so the first interaction we have between them--does she laugh warmly and hold his fevered hand, etc? Nope. She thinks, "what's with him, getting sentimental? He must really be sick," And she gets up to go make some soup.
 
We don't yet know their story, but we can see that something is just off.
 
 I loved how often we were just within reach of some easy and more romantic conclusion to a scene, but were instead pushed away from it, and had to go with them through a long process of really earning some affection and trust.
 
Their relationship is part of the suspense through much of this novel, and not a respite from it!  
Users Online
Currently online: 31 members 914 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: