LOIS YOUNG-TULIN’S FIRST NOVEL:
A BOOK OF HISTORY AND AGING
What happens to old activists? Do they hold fast to their dreams, ideals, 100% committed to a view of an Utopian world?
Or do they fade away with just each other to reminisce and plan the “revolution?”
Do they grow older, move away from their steadfast political commitment, reevaluate that commitment and assimilate into American politics?
In Dr. Lois Young-Tulin’s The Ghost of Leon Trotsky, her remarkable first historical novel, she hits on all of these questions -- and answers -- with an in depth researched story. So thorough is the narrative, that you can feel the people were real characters living through actual periods of history. As one reviewer said, “this book is about aging.”
Leon Trotsky was a main figure in the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, but after Lenin’s death in 1924, Trotsky lost a power struggle with Josef Stalin to succeed Lenin and was forced into exile, finally finding a home in a villa in Coyoacán, Mexico.
The villa was home to Trotsky’s family and young people loyal to his cause. Despite the villa being heavily guarded, a young man, posed as an admirer, brutally stabbed Trotsky with an ice ax and Trotsky died on August 20, 1940.
The book then opens 50 years later with Marcus Goodwin sending an invitation to five people who, with him, are the six survivors of Coyoacán, who were there when Trotsky was assassinated. The novel then centers on Byron Lerner, a dying, "big-shot professor in Philadelphia," -- where he often sees his friend from the Mexico days, Ruby, who also lives in Philadelphia -- and Verna Schwartz, who lives in New York. Byron and Verna were more than “comrades,” but lovers and husband and wife.
When Byron is consumed by his political work, Verna finds herself in an affair with the leader of the local group, whom she marries and with whom she bears a son. (Apparently, it was okay for the leader to have children.)
Byron writes his memoirs and that is where Young-Tulin shows her talent. She describes his life in descriptive, detailed terms -- his radicalization while a student at the University of Texas; his time in Europe during WWII; his being blacklisted during the McCarthy Era; his four marriages; his union organizing; his life with Verna and his conflicted feelings for her. There is a passing reference to John Connolly, the future Governor of Texas, who was attending the Universityof Texas at the same time.
Then, the reader is jumped to Verna’s life and back again to Byron and back to Verna throughout the book. She is divorced and her ex-husband has turned their son against her. She has had a nervous breakdown, suffers from depression, alcoholism, consumed with talking to her therapist, snaps at the slightest provocation and is very bitter. What has this life of political commitment gotten her? She too wonders about Byron and they do meet before the reunion, both unsure of what should happen. In a conversation about politics, she says to Byron, "Have you never voted for a major party candidate?"
On the book jacket: “...The past collides with the present as long-dormant emotions erupt between them, leading them down a road of painful memories, And for the entire group, their brief reunion will uncover betrayal, lies, and secrets so devastating that their perception of history will forever be altered. Rich with historical detail...the book is a brilliant examination of how six people come to terms with their individual and collective pasts and presents.”
Contact Information: Public Relations: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ghost of Leon Trotsky is now available as an ebook
Barnes & Noble Nook
(Not available at Google Books) OR
The book may be purchased at
Lynn Rosen’s Mobile “Pop-Up” Bookstore in the Philadelphia area
iUniverse; Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com.
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© Lois Young-Tulin 2014