How Did I Get Here?
by Jane Marlow
In the 1800s, two events altered the course of Russia’s future—the emancipation of the serfs and the Crimean War. Author Jane Marlow takes readers back to this significant time in Russian history, journeying 800 miles south of Moscow to the frontlines of the Crimean War, in her second novel, How Did I Get Here?
Andrey Rozhdestvensky enters his final year of medical studies in 1854 with an empty belly, empty pockets, and secondhand clothes held together by wishful thinking. When Russia blunders into the misbegotten Crimean War, Tsar Nicholas recruits medical students to the front. Andrey grabs at what he believes to be free passage out of his vapid life—a portal to a new identity.
Volunteering as a surgeon for the Russian army, Andrey travels to the frontlines in Sevastopol and Simferopol on Russia’s Crimean Peninsula, where he discovers the atrocities of war, and fights to keep death and disease— scurvy, typhoid, typhus, cholera, gangrene and frostbite—from decimating the troops. As the war progresses, Andrey fears his mind is becoming unhinged as he witnesses the most senseless disregard for human life imaginable.
But even after the ink dries on the peace treaty, the madness of the war doesn’t end for Andrey. He scours city and countryside in search of a place where his soul can heal. Emotionally hamstrung, can he learn to trust the woman who longs to walk beside him on his journey?
A war story told in intimate human terms, How Did I Get Here? is the result of Jane Marlow’s lifelong interest in 1800s Russia and extensive research into the Crimean War. The second book in the Petrovo series, this novel follows Who Is To Blame? A Russian Riddle, reacquainting readers with several of their favorite characters.
In How Did I Get Here?, readers witness the war’s frontlines from a Russian surgeon’s perspective (as compared to the well-known accounts of British nurse Florence Nightingale of the enemy’s forces). The book also examines unrecognized and untreatable Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder a century before it was given a name, and explores the precariousness of war—why one man lives, the one beside him dies, and another is impaired for life.
A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, How Did I Get Here? is hard-hitting historical fiction for serious readers.
Jane Marlow (www.janemarlowbooks.com) was 11 years old when her mother hauled her to a stage performance of “Fiddler on the Roof”—a night that began her lifelong fascination with the grayness and grandeur of 19th century Russia. After a 30-year career as a veterinarian, Jane began writing full-time. She spent years researching 1800s Russia, the setting for her first two novels, Who Is to Blame? and How Did I Get Here?, the first and second books in the Petrovo series. Jane holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Texas A&M University, and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois. A longtime resident of the Austin, Texas area, she now lives in Bozeman, Montana.
Story Ideas / Key Messages
• How Did I Get Here?: An unexpected war narrative set in 19th century Russia
• Jane Marlow’s years of research on 1800s Russia: the Motherland’s tsars, reforms (including the emancipation of the serfs), nobility, peasants, war, culture
• The First of the Modern Wars: The impact of the Crimean War and its influence on both the US Civil War and WWI
• Exploring Russia before Putin, before Stalin, before the Revolution
• The Crimean War (1853-1856): The war that was a game changer in the balance of power in Europe. Never again would Tsardom be regarded as all-powerful.
• The two-and-a-half-year-long Crimean War claimed at least 750,000 lives, rivaling the U.S. Civil War in its death toll. The conflict also forever altered the nature of combat, marking the battlefield debut of railways, telegraphs, steamships, rifled muskets, and newspaper coverage.
• June 2018 is National PTSD Awareness Month, and June 27, 2018 is PTSD Awareness Day: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) afflicts between 10% and 30% of the veterans of U.S. wars since Vietnam. In How Did I Get Here?, we see a character affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder a full century before it was given a name.
Praise for Who Is To Blame? (Book 1 in the Petrovo series)
“Jane Marlow has done a marvelous job giving the reader a deep and beautiful insight into the day to day life of the Russian people from nobles to the peasants in the 19th century. As you immerse yourself in the book you can feel their struggles and experiences as though you were walking in their shoes. Brilliant!”
—Mark Schauss, host of the Russian Rulers History Podcast