This is a totally mesmerizing book. It’s beautifully written and historically evocative, if not literally “true.” The subject is a small group of very early 20th century Russian pioneers, completely fictional although based on the Second Aliya, in what is now Israel. It’s about the lives and loves and losses of these people as well as their families, their feuds, their land and their stories.
The frame is contemporary (1988) with a first person narrator who was born and raised in the community, the grandson of one of the pioneers, and is now the keeper of a private cemetery there. He knows the people and the history and a lot of stories and that’s what he tells us – in a lush, meandering, interwoven way.
The tone is rather like magical realism and this book has been compared to 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I definitely see the connection.