"An Enduring Masterpiece"
Before reading Sonia Meyer's novel, all I knew about Gypsies was the usual hearsay, both romanticized and negative. But I was at once captivated by the young Gypsy girl Dosha and her soul mate, the magnificent stallion Rus. The other members of her tribe, their loyalty to each other, their wisdom as to human nature, soon became so real to me, they ceased to be strangers. Especially since their lives, like my own since childhood, revolves around horses. The brilliance with which Sonia Meyer portrays the magical connection between a horse and rider performing the intricate movements of dressage, the intuitive love and feeling for these noble animals, as well as the accuracy of her knowledge of this complex sport, are to my mind unsurpassed in fiction. After a long day of working with my own horses, I looked forward in the evening to what to me was a treat, the entering of the world of these Gypsies to whom the mind and spirit of the horse were second nature. I was equally fascinated by their spirituality and their oneness with nature, I longed to travel with them into those virgin forests and tundras of Europe s High North, where only nomads find their way. To me this novel is a must read, but to horse people and riders, this will remain an enduring masterpiece on the world and mind of the horse and the art of dressage. I highly recommend this novel. By Dorothy Morkis, US Olympic Dressage Rider.
~By Dorothy Morkis, US Olympic Dressage Rider
A rare insight into the ancient, secretive world of the Gypsies...
The novel is a sweeping Gypsy epic unfolding against the backdrop of Europe s tumultuous history of World War II and Soviet Russia under Stalin and Khrushchev. Only this time events are seen through the eyes of a Gypsy girl Dosha, granddaughter of the powerful leader of an aristocratic Russian Gypsy tribe of horse-dealers, the Lovara. She is a little girl in 1941 when, answering Stalin's call to halt the advance of the Nazi invader, her tribe travels to the forests of Poland to fight alongside Russian partisans. But witnessing the massacres and killings perpetrated by warring European nations and crossing the festering killer fields of the aftermath , the Gypsies withdraw into their own life and culture. By then Meyer has taken us right into the hearts and souls of her richly developed Gypsy characters. We travel with them and their horses back into Soviet Russia, only to find that where once they had been accepted, even celebrated under the czars, they now find themselves shunned and driven out of many villages that had welcomed them before.
Meyer's evocative writing turns surreal as superstitions, premonitions and legend once again dominate Lovara life. According to one of those legends Dosha will be the future female leader and pathfinder for her Lovara tribe. But Russia is about to stamp out her last vestiges of true freedom. Stalin dies, and rising to the top Khrushchev, while promising increased freedom to the Soviet masses, out of public view starts rounding Russia s last nomadic Gypsies for deportation to starvation camps. By then Dosha, tall and blond as a Russian has already been drafted off an isolated collective in Russia s High North, where her magnificent stallion was spotted by a worker of an electricity crew. She and her magnificent circus stallion are taken for training to the Hermitage in Leningrad. There they soon become the star duo of the newly established Soviet Olympic dressage team. Hiding her Gypsy identity under a false name, Dosha tries to survive the close scrutiny of the KGB, her own goal unwaveringly set on escape with her stallion in order to lead her people back to freedom.
But Dosha does not cross the polluted world of the non-Gypsy unscathed. When she is sent to the Kirov ballet to study choreography for a free-style dressage demonstration by the Soviet Olympic Team, she begins to plother escape.
~By Ray Merritt, best-selling author of A Thousand Hounds
A Literary Triumph!
Dosha, Flight of the Russian Gypsies is a beautifully crafted piece of historical literature. While a journey back in time to the post WWII Soviet Union complete with the bleak, oppression it wrought, this is also a story of the triumph of the human spirit. The plot revolves around Dosha, a young gypsy gifted with the ability to tame horses as many gypsies in Russia were. She breaks and trains a magnificent stallion called Rus. Together, they are uprooted by Russian authorities and forced to train to perform internationally in a effort to restore the former glory of the Russian dressage and Olympic dominance in equestrian sports. In hopes of defecting, Dosha pays close attention to the subtle signals conveyed by other gypsies as her first performance nears .
Author Sonia Meyer truly has a gift for creating fine writing, vivid descriptions, excellent character development and a solid knowledge of horses which brings this story so vividly to life. I highly recommend this books to lovers of horses and historical fiction.
~ Denise Cassino, Senior Editor, Long Story Short
WHAT READERS SAY ABOUT THE BOOK
THE FIVE STAGES – SO FAR –
OF THE LIFE OF . . . SONIA MEYER
Years of War . . .
I was born in 1938 in Cologne, Germany, a crossbreed of several European ethnicities. My first memory is of my mother lifting me onto the kitchen table to put on my winter coat. It was the evening after fellow opponents of the Nazi regime, less vocal than my mother, had been strung up by a nearby railroad overpass and left dangling for all to see. That night we left everything we owned behind. I was not yet two years old, when we vanished into the hinterlands and forests of Germany, later occupied Poland to join other opponents of the ‘master-race’.
My next memory – It is spring. I am standing on a hill. My father using a wooden mending egg, is teaching me how to toss a hand grenade. From then on messages were braided into my hair, which I carried from groups of women and children to their partisan men who, for the safety of their families, lived in forest hide-out camps apart. At age six I had turned into a ‘runner’.
In between vague memories of forests changing with the seasons, abandoned barns and burned out buildings, always sleeping fully dressed, ready to get up and run, lying flat at the bottom of ditches or on the forest floor, waiting for shootings to subside or the after blast of bombs to pass us by. Often, my mother covered my eyes with a kerchief, when crossing the aftermath of those killer fields.
A third memory is that of an old Gypsy woman, thin as a rail, she is holding my mother by both her hands. It was after the massacre by the railway tunnel. A group of women and children had been digging up left-over potatoes after harvest, when a pair of bomb-diving Stukas mowed them down. My mother and I were the only ones who made it to the safety of the tunnel. For days she couldn’t stop shaking. She kept holding on to me. The old Gypsy woman, reading her face, said, “You need not worry, both of you will survive this war. And after your child will travel across many lands, but she will fly,” she said her piercing eyes on me, “alone.” I was used to seeing Gypsies in our hide-out world, what fascinated me was that some actually still had horses, which they left grazing free. None of us partisans had animals of any kind, they could have given us away.