Obvious question: why a novel about Nadya Krupskaya, Nadya’s mother and Nadya’s husband (Vladimir Lenin)?

A perplexed friend asked the same question back when I started the project. The justification that popped out of my mouth at the time was: “I admire their work ethic.” Whatever else might be said of them, Krupskaya the younger and Lenin worked like dogs on behalf of their cause.

When the tsar’s government ordered us from Poland in the spring of 1874, my daughter, Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, was forced to leave behind her dog.

A mongrel dog with a limp and copious fleas.

Did such defects and disadvantages lessen my Nadya’s love for the beast?

Not in the slightest. Very likely such misfortunes made my daughter cherish her pet all the more. When the two were together, it was my Nadya, not the animal, who served as protector, my Nadya who chased away his enemies, who carried him and his injured paw across river stones, who would not consent to eat until her dog had been fed.