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Lily Alex

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The Russians are coming! / 14 Months in the Life of the Town
by Lily Alex   

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Books by Lily Alex
· Lost on Earth: Fateful Love
· The Creatures
· Любовь и Судьба
· The Russians are coming! / 14 Months in the Life of the Town ePub Format
· Children's Stories Collection
                >> View all



Publisher:  CreateSpace ISBN-10:  1468125955 Type: 


Copyright:  January, 2012 ISBN-13:  9781468125955

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The story is an imaginative and spirited narrative embracing both diversity and universality. Set in small-town America (199~), the novel's main characters, six Russian newcomers, provide a fresh perspective on a close-knit college community.

Two couples, one child, and a single woman make up the core group. The story follows them and offers to the reader the unique opportunity to explore not only the surface differences between Russian and American lifestyles, but the more profound similarities.

Uncertainty, infidelity, and betrayal plague both the immigrants and their fellow townsfolk, but such universal redeemers as love, family, and friendship are the fundamental ties that bind.

Narrowed to a specific fourteen-month time frame, but enhanced with flashbacks and epilogue, the novel shows everyday life in both countries.

Jealousies, lusts, and misdemeanors (and even organized crime!) have their place, as do finer passions for truth, learning, love, and simple neighborliness.

The novel is, by turns, tragic and heart-warming, passionate and instructive, but always, and ultimately, hope-filled.

* Also available as an ebook
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Reviewed by C. Smith for Readers Favorite

“The Russians Are Coming!: Fourteen Months in the Life of the Town” follows the lives of six Russian immigrants who make their mark on the town they have chosen as home.

Marina, a beauty, lonely and single, works as a teaching assistant at the University. Nina and Vlad are a happy married couple with two young children. Their love for one another is strong and everlasting.

Gleb and Vera are married, but only as a formality. Gleb is an entrepreneur and a schemer while Vera is a talented artist. Ruslan is a sincere and intelligent young man, determined to keep his integrity, in spite of the inequities of those around him.

Stolen glances, clandestine romance, drama, heartbreak, and joy all bring the story together as the Russians settle into their American lives. They learn to live with the prejudices and to change the opinions of some Americans who haven’t shaken their fear and loathing of Russians from the political tumult of the past.

Love is in the air, though, and oh my, it shakes things up! A roller coaster of new found love crashes its way through the story, uniting and dividing the Russians and the Americans they have come to know and love and distrust as well.

Lily Alex begins with a modest tone, and allows the excitement to build throughout the story, bringing it to a rousing and delightful end.

I am expecting a sequel to come after this as there is so much more to be told of the Russians, the new relationships they have established, and what lies in their futures.  
The Lapins and Ruslan Grafinsky were the first persons to arrive at the Christmas party, and they were confused seeing the empty hall.

"I told you it was too early," whispered Vlad to Nina.

However, Hannah was glad to see Larisa, and the girls started playing together.

"I thought Mr. Limpson, as the organizer, would be here," Ruslan said to the VanSteins.

"He's very busy, but he promised to come later." Megan smiled. "Looking for a sponsor, eh?" She winked, but the face of Ruslan was so clouded that the woman felt herself uncomfortable, and she started talking with Nina.

More and more people arrived. Children ran around and were so noisy that Megan sent them to play in another, smaller hall prepared with some toys and games especially for the younger set.

"I'll watch the kids," Nina offered.

"Oh, don't worry." Megan explained, "There are nannies here to watch them, but thanks anyway."

Gleb Merkulov came later. He nodded to his wife, yet did not come close.

He gazed at Ruslan Grafinsky and sat next to him.

"Nice evening," Gleb dropped casually. The young man did not answer.

"I'm warning you, buddy," keeping a nice smile in place, Gleb hissed to him.

"You don't scare me," calmly replied Ruslan.

Lucy Limpson quickly entered the hall. She glanced about, saw Gleb and Ruslan, and she smiled. However, she did not go to them. First she addressed David, then the other guests, then went to Gleb only after other people had arrived and the attention of everybody was drawn from her to the newcomers.

"Hi." she said to the Russians. Ruslan's gloomy face surprised her. "Is something wrong?" she asked as she sat next to Gleb.

"Everything's fine," Ruslan replied sarcastically.

"When you're beside me, nothing's wrong," uttered Gleb emotionally.

Ruslan glanced at him. "Except the situation, eh?"

Lucy averted her eyes, and giggled.

"How's your wife, Mr. Merkulov?" she said loudly, and Russsian men gazed at her. "I bought some of her pictures."

Surprised, Gleb pointed to a group of guests.

Quietly singing together, Marina Aleksandrova and Nina Lapina were sitting side by side. Marina played her guitar while Vera drew a sketch of them.

'What about they had talked?' Gleb thought, worried. 'I hope Vera didn't say something that could destroy my plans.'

"Oh." Ruslan attentively looked at Lucy. "Well, it's good. When will your father arrive?"

"Are you looking for a sponsor?" Lucy snorted, but her smile died immediately in view of Ruslan's face, filled with pain. Not answering, he got up and walked away, and Lucy concentrated her attention on the conversation with Gleb.

Vlad Lapin was talking with David VanStein and some other professors from the University. A smiling Megan approached and interrupted them. "Enough talk about work."

"You're right, honey," David said with an apologetic smile. His guests looked at the Russian women.

"Ladies," called one of the professors. "Why do you hide in the corner? Come here and sing to us. I've never heard Russian songs."

"I can't sing." Nina got embarrassed, but Marina calmly went to the middle of the room. Placing her feet on the stool, she took her guitar, and sang.

She was singing in Russian, so the Americans listened without understanding the words. Marina's voice sounded very emotional, and everybody saw-she put her heart into the singing.

Suddenly Megan VanStein noticed that the other Russians were visibly confused as she intercepted exchanging glances. When Marina finished, and all the people applauded, she asked, "What was this song about?"

"Just a love song," Vera hastily answered, and Megan did not like the look on her face.

"One girl loves one man," Marina sighed, walking back to the couch.

"Yeah, one married man," Nina Lapina said very loudly and laughed.

A deadly silence reigned at once.

Vlad quickly nudged his wife, and she looked at him, then around the room with naive surprise, as she did not expect her phrase to have had such an effect.

David saw Marina glare at him. Framed with the puff of her fluffy straw-colored hair, her face went red, and he was amazed, feeling his own cheeks blush as well. The guests exchanged whispers.

"I see it's a very frequent situation." Lucy gave Gleb a wink.

"What do you mean?" wondered Gleb.

"I mean when a girl loves a married man," she answered very quietly, staring at him.

Little by little the party resumed its normal course, and when Lucy's father entered the hall, only a few people noticed.

Lucy, Gleb, and Ruslan walked to him very quickly, almost running. Lucy glanced at Ruslan, and addressed her father. "Daddy, let me introduce Gleb Merkulov. I showed you his wife's pictures. And this is..." She forgot Ruslan's name, and confusedly looked at him.

"Ruslan Grafinsky," he said. "Mr. Limpson, can I have a talk with you?"

"If it's about sponsorship," Mr. Limpson coldly replied taking out a business card, "here is the address to send your query or project. You will get a response within three months."

"This is more important to you than to me," Ruslan retorted in the same tone that Mr. Limpson had used. He did not take the card, and the businessman gazed at this Russian youth with interest.

"Very well, Mr. Grafinsky," Mr. Limpson grinned. "I'll give you a ride home and we can talk." He went to greet the guests.

"He won't believe you," Gleb said in Russian.

"At least I'll try," replied Ruslan.

Lucy did not understand, but the spite in Gleb's voice made her worry.

"What?" she addressed Ruslan. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm afraid, sweetheart," Gleb answered sadly, "my pal wants to ruin our friendship."

"Nobody can do that, I swear," she took his hand, and tenderly squeezed it with all her excessive emotion.

Without another word Ruslan moved aside...

Professional Reviews

If you're wondering where you've heard the phrase "The Russians are Coming" before you're in good company.

The phrase has some interesting history behind it. It was originally attributed to the first United States Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal in 1949. According to one source he said, "The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming. They’re right around. I’ve seen Russian soldiers!"

Later that same year he committed suicide by jumping out a hospital window.

Obviously some issues! But keep in mind this man also held the position of Secretary of the Navy during the last year of WWII and was deeply involved two years before his death in the alien landing (or whatever) in Roswell, New Mexico. You can imagine what the conspiracy theorists made of his death.

Next the phrase became the title of a film directed by Norman Jewison staring Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint and Alan Arkin. In the film a Soviet submarine inadvertently beaches near a small American town.

The resulting human interactions made a farce of the cold war. And believe me, at that time the cold war needed all the good humor we on both sides of the Berlin Wall could muster!

The book that is the subject of this review was not the basis for the movie which was actually based on a children’s book by Nathanial Benchley called "The Off-Islanders."

Lily Alex, the author of this book wasn't even born when the movie was made. However she was born and raised in Russia before the collapse of Communism and has lived in the USA and Canada since 1994 which does give her a wonderful background for a book exploring the interactions between Americans and Russian immigrants

These interactions might not be as amusing as those between the stereotypical Americans and Russians in the movie (Believe me, you'd recognize every one of them from the gossipy switchboard operator to the stiffly formal Russian Captain), but Lily's characters have an honesty that can't be achieved by simple one-dimensional stereotypes.
(You might even wonder if one of the more interesting and well-drawn characters in the book is a younger Ms. Alex!)

Instead of Russian sailors, her characters are rather ordinary types like all of us: mothers, fathers, children, adulterers, con-men; there's even a bit of a connection with the Russian mafia to add spice to the mix.

The story takes place in 1990-x in a small American city, but the Russian characters spend a lot of time remembering their lives as they led them in Russia–or the Soviet Union.

Of course author Lily Alex's youth was spent in Russian during the final days of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party so she can write about those days with accuracy. For those of us living here during that time this is easily the most interesting part of the book.

Another thing this critic found interesting is that in spite of the distance between the characters and their native land, they are the same people they were there with the same issues. The kind are still kind, the loyal still loyal and the brutal and selfish no less degraded by the change of scenery.

There are a lot of books out describing the last days of the Russian Empire in a historical context. "The Russians Are Coming" by Lily Alex gives an individuals' personal view of the era that one can find in few other books.

* * * * *

Mike Nardine is a small businessman and owner of He sells domain names and web hosting with special prices to authors. He also writes book reviews at Your Book Review.Com

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When 'The Russians' Vera Grach and Gleb Merkulov, Vlad Lapin and his wife Nina and daughter Larisa as well as Marina Alexsandrova arrive, folks in town are a bit unsure of what they may want or what their own reaction to them should be.

In "The Russians Are Coming" Lily Alex has produced an interesting glimpse into the lives of a group of common folks who move to a new area and begin to carve out lives for themselves. As with most of us while the lives of the six are dissimilar they cling to one another because of their ethnic tie.
The various relationships described by writer Alex in "The Russians Are Coming" evolve much as is found in real life. Old relationships die, new ones are formed.

Romance is lost under the skillful pen of writer Alex and is found again on the pages of "The Russians Are Coming".

The book "The Russians Are Coming" is written in the delightful Alex technique, Writer Alex is Russian by birth, English is her second language and the book "The Russians Are Coming" embodies the best of both.

From the opening lines "The Russians Are Coming" is set in the student's laboratory where we find Professor Stein speaking into a cell phone to the last paragraphs when we are told more Russians are coming writer Alex crafts an energetic tale filled with dynamic characters, intrigue and upbeat settings.

Characters are fully fleshed, dialogue is potent, action maintains a steady forward clip.

A good book for a quiet even "The Russians Are Coming" is an enjoyable read.

by Molly Martin

* * * * * * * * * *

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING is a combination of romance, race relations and cultural differences all visited upon a small enclave of Russians at a university in America. The town is so backward that it still blasts a siren at 10 AM every morning - a holdover from the Cold War. A romance with a black person is taboo not only from a white point of view but also from the black community.
A stunning college student, Marina falls in love with David VanSteinn, her professor. The very married David is not immune to the Marina's lure and this could cause problems in his marriage. Gleb is married to Vera but he has a roving eye and his eye mostly roves toward women with money, which is far more important to him than his marriage. Gleb also has shady dealings with organized crime in Russia. A black policeman has fallen for Vera even though he doesn't really know her. When he takes her to visit his black church, he receives less than a warm welcome. Vlad and Nina seem to have a solid marriage but there are insecurities on both sides. Nina is rather plain and chubby and Vlad works all the time. Because he notices how flaky his friends are when it comes to relationships he wonders if Nina is straying.

The novel has its moments of suspense and drama. The people are almost too real as we follow them through their various relationships. There is an urge to tell them to stop and think about what they are about to do, not only to themselves but their respective partners. It was a very interesting novel and gave some insight into another culture.

Reviewed by
Alice Holman
@ The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers

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Reader Reviews for "The Russians are coming! / 14 Months in the Life of the Town"

Reviewed by m j hollingshead 4/26/2003

The book The Russians Are Coming is written in the delightful Alex technique, Writer Alex is Russian by birth, English is her second language and the book The Russians Are Coming embodies the best of both. From the opening lines and The Russians Are Coming is set in the student’s laboratory where we find Professor Stein speaking into a cell phone to the last paragraphs when we are told more Russians are coming, writer Alex crafts an energetic tale filled with dynamic characters, intrigue and upbeat settings. Characters are fully fleshed, dialogue is potent, action maintains a steady forward clip.

A good book for a quiet evening The Russians Are Coming is an enjoyable read.

Reviewed by: molly martin

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