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Just in time for the recent centennial of the Soviet Revolution and the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the assassination of the entire Romanov family, WMU Master Faculty Specialist Judith Rypma has published a novel set in the midst of these volatile events. The Amber Beads was released by Black Opal Books a few months ago.
The novel, which is Rypma’s first and follows nine poetry books, goes beyond pure history. Instead, the protagonist is a young woman in the 1990s who inherits the contents of her great grandmother’s Michigan farmhouse, filled with piles of hoarded junk. After discovering and fiddling with an amber necklace, she finds herself suddenly whisked back in time to the court of the last ruling Romanovs and a Russia in the midst of World War I. As the events of 1917 kindle a flame that becomes the roar of revolution, they not only touch her life and that of her new family, but force her to cope with new ways of seeing the world, her cultural heritage, and even the complications of a unique and complicated love. Looming over these events is the most important question: how—or will—she make it back to the present?
Rypma’s novel, as well as her most recent collection of poetry (Worshipping at Lenin’s Mausoleum), reflect her avid research agenda on Russian history and culture, as well as nearly thirty trips to that country over the past several decades.