Saturday, April 9, 2011

Minsk, the capital of Belarus

My new romance novel, Rx IN RUSSIAN, is set in Minsk, Belarus, where I traveled in the nineties for business. Let me tell you about a city I enjoyed so much. Minsk is the capital and largest city in Belarus, situated on the Svislach and Nemiga rivers. The earliest references to Minsk date to the 11th century (1067), when it was a provincial city within the principality of Polotsk. In 1242, Minsk became a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and it received its town privileges in 1499. From 1569, it was a capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

From 1919–1991, Minsk was the capital of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Minsk was initially founded on the hills. However, in the 20th century, it grew to include the relatively flat plains in the southeast. The western parts of the city are the most hilly. Minsk is located in the area of mixed forests typical for most of Belarus. Pinewood and mixed forests are still present at the edge of the city, especially in the north and east. Some of the forests were transformed into parks as the city grew. Here is the Church Of Mary Magdalene behind the hotel where I stayed. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Minsk immediately came under attack. The city was bombed on the first day of the invasion. Communists and sympathisers were killed or imprisoned; both locally and after being transported to Germany. Homes were requisitioned to house invading German forces. Thousands starved as food was seized by the German Army and paid work was scarce. Some anti-soviet residents of Minsk, who hoped that Belarus could regain independence, did support the Germans, especially at the beginning of the occupation, but by 1942, Minsk had become a major centre of the Soviet partisan resistance movement against the invasion. For this role, Minsk was awarded the title Hero City in 1974.

In Rx IN RUSSIAN my hero, Dr. Fyodor Vassilov guides the heroine, Dr. Jillian Burton, through his city and describes it with pride and patriotism.

Jillian opened the door and slid into the passenger seat. She slipped his chapka from her head and handed it back to him. Her perfume lingered on the fur and wafted toward him, a floral scent Fyodor breathed discreetly when he took the hat without comment and climbed into the car.

After settling in the back, he gave Tatiana the directions to the restaurant and relaxed, his gaze trailing the delicate profile of his guest as the car wove in and out of traffic and zoomed onto a large avenue.

“Here is our Victory Monument with the eternal flame of the Unknown Soldier.” He pointed to the statue at the center of an intersection and leaned forward, trying to see if she admired the places that filled him with pride. “And this large building is the Hall of Officers, the military headquarters. It’s an old imperial palace.”

“I wish I had my camera with me. As soon as I have some time off, I’ll visit Minsk thoroughly.”

Her enthusiasm delighted him. “When spring comes and the weather improves, I will be happy to show you our capital and...”

What a foolish offer. Come spring, would he be free to play guide to his gorgeous visiting physician? Tatiana dropped them in front of the restaurant and asked Jillian to call her when they needed to return. A hostess took Jillian’s coat and seated them at a table near the window overlooking the river.

Jillian surveyed the restaurant. “Wow, it’s so richly decorated. Is this an old palace too?”

Pleased with the approval in her voice, Fyodor chuckled. “We have so many palaces. Many old mansions are now used as hotels, restaurants, or official buildings. From here you can see the Svislach River.” He pulled the curtains aside for her to have a better look. “Minsk was destroyed during both World Wars. Many parts of the city still look devastated. We are rebuilding very slowly.” He would hate for her to misjudge his beloved country.

"What a beautiful view.” Her smile of admiration pleased him more than a shot glass of vodka. Unease prickled his nape. Why did her approval of his hometown matter so much to him?

Rx IN RUSSIAN is available at the Wild Rose Press in print and ebook.

One thing I've learned from reading your books: They take you to exotic lands and you totally lose yourself in the story!~ Molly Daniels

"Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable!" -- Roxanne St. Claire, Killer Curves, National Bestseller.

The Long And The Short Reviews~ Mona Risk’s writing sweeps you into the story from the first page, and keeps you turning the pages.

WRDF Review~ What a great read, romantic and at times bittersweet.Enjoyable from beginning to end.

The Romance Studio: Sweetheart of the Week. ~ Ms. Risk is one of those authors who puts together a tale that’s captivates from first page to last. I’ll have to look for more of her work in the future.

I hope you will get my book as soon as possible and send me a review. Since my book is set in Belarus, I will pick from among the reviews two lucky winners and send them a Belarusian gift: A Belarusian handmade box or a Russian genuine amber pair of earrings I bought from Minsk. I will upload their pictures in my next blog. My offer is opened for a month, until May 5th, 2011 to give you time to read my novel and write your review. I will be very grateful if you follow my blog.


Autumn Jordon said...

Mona, I love the way you gave the visuals of what your characters were seeing. I felt like I was right there with them. I can't wait to read this story. I'm add it to my kindle today.

StephB said...

Mona, I love your pictures. They bring the city to life. I especially loved how you described the history and influences of the city.

I noticed the church - beautiful. What's the religion in Minsk? Is it predominately Orthodox?

I've got my prescription!

Maggie Toussaint said...

Lovely pictures, lovely city, lovely story.

Hmm. I hope my editor doesn't see that I used the same word three times, but I truly mean it!

Mona, you have such a feel for international settings. I enjoy armchair traveling with you as my tour guide!

mystery and romance author

Beth Trissel said...

Beautiful pics, as always, Mona. And your descriptions really bring it all to life.

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Mona,
The photos are lovely and Minsk sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read this story, it sounds lovely...

And Maggie, when you use the same word three times, it's called echoing--and tell your editor it's deliberate. :-)

Sandra Cox said...

Sounds like another winner, Mona.
And what wonderful pictures. Thanks for the background info.

Josie said...

Absolutely gorgeous pictures and descriptions, as always. You truly sweep your readers away to exotic places.

Mary Ricksen said...

Great shots Mona!!! You are so fortunate for that wonderful time in your life! The font is messed up Mona!

Mary Marvella said...

Mona, I love the special effect. (grin) Blogger can be so much fun when she plays with our work.

I always find your travel blogs enthralling! I know this book will be a hit!

One day I'll be talking about having my Mona Risk collection.

Mona Risk said...

Autumn, thank you for getting my book. Now you'll be able to discover Minsk with the heroine who saw it with my eyes.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Steph, those who were teenagers and young under communism are not practicing any religion. The very old and the new generation are more religious. Among those who practiced 70% are Russian Orthodox, 20% are Polish Catholics, and the rest are either Muslims from Kazhakstan or Urbekistan, or Jews. I visited several Orthodox churches that are really beautiful and attended an Easter Mass in the Red Church, a catholic church, all in red mosaico inside.

Mona Risk said...

Maggie, thank you for your lovely comments. I love each one of them!

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Beth for your expert opinion. I really appreciate it.

Mona Risk said...

Keena, I am glad you enjoy the blog.

Mona Risk said...

Sandra, thank you for stopping by. It's such apleasure to see you here.

Mona Risk said...

Josie, that's the whole idea, to take you on a trip with me. Imagine that one of the handsome colonels who served as my model in To Love A Hero and in Rx in Russian sent me a note on Facebook telling me how much he appreciates me talking about his country and letting the world know about Belarus.

Mona Risk said...

Mary, come along on armchair trip through my stories.

As for the font, blogspot is driving me crazy these days. It took me two hours to upload, undo and fix this post.

Mona Risk said...

Mama Mary, you deserve a special hug for your Mona Risk collection!I love it!

Barbara Monajem said...

Thank you for educating me about Minsk, especially the history!

Mona Risk said...

Hi Barbara, I enjoy the history of these Russian countries. The Belarusians are so patriotic they talk all the time about their past. Their present is quite bleak.

Sharon said...

Mona, the pictures are breath taking. And the way you describe them in detail brings the book to life. I'm going to have to get a copy. I loved reading your blog.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Sharon. I am so glad you are getting Rx in Russian. You will enjoy it.