Innocence and Anarchy offers a brilliant fictionalized portrayal of the tension between the established order and attempts at social reform in nineteenth-century Russia, where innocence, idealism, and faith are transformed into political intrigue, vengeance, and despair. Actual historical events, people, and movements are woven together with fictional characters in a gripping narrative of the monumental changes that occurred in Russia and Europe during the years leading to the Russian Revolution.
The story follows the career of the aristocrat, Nikolai Ivanovitch Bobrikov, from the Caucasus to Finland, as he rises to preeminence in the despotic Czarist regime and becomes Governor General of Finland. In the course of his rise in the government, he uses his power and position to continue the oppressive policies of the Czar-with tragic results. The narrative also follows the poignant story of his half-sister, Tatyana, a serf. Separated from Bobrikov as a young woman, Tatyana finds herself first in France, where she becomes involved in the Paris Commune of 1871, and then in Finland under the iron rule of her half-brother.
Once united in innocence, the siblings are shaped in very different ways by tumultuous forces that helped define the twentieth century, including the emancipation of the serfs, the assassination of Alexander II, the development of socialism, and the rise of terrorism. When Bobrikov and Tatyana cross paths again, fifty years later, their fateful meeting leads to a devastating event that alters the course of history for two nations.