We The Living by Ayn Rand 464 Pages

Posted: October 21, 2012 in Books

 

Kira Argounov is the youngest daughter of an ariistocratic family who lived in exile in the Crimea waiting for the Bolshevik revolution to die out.  It never did.  The Argounovs moved back to Perograd under Comminist rule.  Kira meets Leo Kovelensky, the son of a counterrevolutionary, while trying to escape the amorous advances of her cousin Victor.  Kira and Leo fell in love at first sight and moved in together shortly thereafter.

Life under Communist rule was not easy for Leo and Kira because they refused to join the Party, and the lack of proper nutrition took a toll on Leo’s health.  He needed to go to a sanitarium to reinvigorate his well-being.  The problem is, neither Kira or Leo have any money to pay for Leo’s stay.  Kira tries to borrow some money from one of Leo’s aunts abroad, but she fails.

The only alternative Kira has is to become the mistress of Andrei Taganov, a Commmunist Party member of high standing and local hero in Petrograd.  Andrei is in love with Kira and more than happy to lavish her with money, which Kira then uses to pay Leo’s sanitarium bills.  Leo comes back from the sanitorium, hale and hearty, and with a plan.  Leo is going to open a private food market, something frowned upon in Soviet Russia, but Leo is planning to go into business with a corrupt Soviet official, Pavel Sagyev.

The plan works flawlessly at first, but then Leo starts flaunting his wealth, instead of doing what he promised, trying to buy freedom for himself and Kira, buy bribing a Soviet official for visas.  Leo lived so high on the hog that he aroused the suspicion of Party members.  Andrei Taganov opens an investigatoion on Leo, does he find the truth?  Does Leo ever find out that Kira is having an affair with Andrei?

This book starts out well, the characters are facinating and principled.  But then Rand does what many auuthors do, she introduces so many characters, that it dilutes the main characters Kira’s cousins, their boyfriends or girlfriends,party members, all take away from a very compellinglove triangle between Kira, Leo, and Andrei.

What I also didn’t like was that these initiallly principled characters seemed to forget all about their principles.  Leo is an avowed anti-Communist, yet he makes deals with a Comminust to make money, and then he does not use the money for any good purpose.  Kira at first seems like a tough-minded intelligent  young woman who dreams of being a female architect in a male dominated world.  But her brain seems to turn into mush when she meets Leo, she drops out of archetectural school, and becomes Leo’s subservuent puppet.  I expected better from a female author writing a female character.  The only character I really felt badly for was Andrei, and he was the devoted Communist, for such a vehemently anti-Communist tome, I found it odd that Rand would make Andrei her most sympathetic character, Rand does illustrate the misery of day to day life in a Communist regime very well, but even that becomes redundant over the course of 400 plus pages.

We The Living.  ‘Dies a Slow Death.

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