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Feet of Wax
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1914 - 1918: The Eastern Front Joanna Hempel - one of Australia's leading playwrights for young people - now brings her skills as a dramatist to 'Feet of Wax', a novel informed by family journals. Based on her grandparents' lives during the disintegration of the Russian Empire and the re-birth of Poland, it reveals Eastern Europe as it changes forever. Inspired by true events, its action moving from the idyllic countryside of Lithuania to St Petersburg, Warsaw, Berlin and New York, 'Feet of Wax' depicts the lives of two young people and their families during World War I. Taking refuge with a wealthy uncle in St Petersburg, Wanda falls in love with George, a radical student from Warsaw. Conscripted into the tsarist infantry, he is caught up in revolutionary currents at the front, while she sees a city turning from fashionable glitter to protest, then revolution, as the effects of war and hunger set in. When the German Front advances, Russia's Empire is in meltdown. Lenin, the leader of the Bolsheviks, and Pilsudski, the leader of the Poles, are poised to make their mark on history. Reviews: "An important book. I was entrapped. Good literature gives flesh to historical events. Feet of Wax opens up the circumstances of people caught up in the madness of others." - David Brigden, lawyer, Sydney "A blend of romance, military strategy, intrigue and suspense...to the point that we are anxious to find out what will happen next." - Catherine Hammond, Sydney "A masterful work...particularly Hempel's use of dialogue to convey historical and political events. My second reading allowed me to linger..." - Penelope Collet, Art Historian, France "Feet of Wax paints the complexity of overlapping nationalisms, ethnicity, class and religion on the Eastern Front. I eagerly await Vol II." - Glen Dealy, Political Philosopher, USA "Moving through this historic journey, the pieces of this artfully woven tapestry come together. A great work." - Carolyn Hartcher, Sydney "This is a story of intensely individualised people caught up in historical transition...brilliantly portrayed." - Ekaterina Gaevskaya, Moscow "The characters in Hempel's narrative become real for us in a different way to those in other fiction. Knowing they are based on her own family history gives added meaning to the passionate engagement she puts into bringing them to life." - Alison Richards, Theatre lecturer, Melbourne "Such a worthwhile read. Feet of Wax fills in knowledge about parts of Eastern Europe that is otherwise patchy, neglected by history, lost in the rush of great events which have grabbed the attention of historians." - Wojciech Dabrowski, Anthropologist, Warsaw University.
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