Red Stone

I am a kulak’s granddaughter, so Gabriele Goldstone’s novel Red Stone, previously published under the title The Kulak’s Daughter resonated personally with me. My grandparents and my husband’s parents left Ukraine before the time in which the book is set, but reading it gave me an idea of the fate that might have awaited them had they chosen to stay in Ukraine like the family in Red Stone did. How thankful I am that they did not. 

My husband's kulak grandfather and his family on the lake in front of their estate in Ukraine

My husband’s kulak grandfather and his family on the lake on their property in Ukraine

Kulak was a name given to families in Ukraine who were generally more advanced and prosperous than the Ukrainian peasants around them. They owned land and livestock and often had local peasants as employees.  Katya the heroine of Red Stone is just on the brink of adolescence when everything changes for her kulak family. Her father is arrested, their land and buildings confiscated, and she and her mother and siblings sent to a labor camp.

Gabrielle Goldstone author of Red Stone

Gabriele Goldstone the Manitoba  author of Red Stone

But Katya is a survivor! She makes marks on the walls of the rat infested barracks in which her family is housed to remind herself that the horror she is experiencing is real. She is not living in a dream. As she watches her mother spiral into depression she comes up with an idea that gives her hope and leads to a kind of salvation for Katya and her siblings.

stork in ukraineI personally connected with two of the images used in Red Stone. One is the storks which in Ukraine are said to be harbingers of luck. I took this photo of a stork the day we found my kulak grandparents’ village in Ukraine. What a lucky day for me!  Unfortunately the storks who nest in an old wagon wheel on Katya’s farm in the novel Red Stone do not bring her family luck.  mennonite windmill ukraine

Katya’s father’s pride is his windmill, a symbol of what he has built with his farm and family in Ukraine. Katya takes a small stone from the windmill and it becomes her talisman as the world of her childhood collapses and she faces an uncertain future. I took this photo of a windmill in Ukraine, near my grandparents’ former village, abandoned and the last of its kind. 

RED_STONE_COVERRed Stone is just the first book in a series being published by the Winnipeg based company Rebelight. After getting to know Katya in Red Stone I can hardly wait to read about her further adventures in Gabriele Goldstone’s next book. 

Note: I was not familiar with the term ‘kulak’ till I read this book nor did I realize it would have been used to label my Mennonite ancestors. I did a little research and found that many Mennonites were referred to as kulaks because they were prosperous landowners. This term was applied to Mennonites as early as 1918, nearly a decade before my grandparents and my husband’s parents left Ukraine.

Other posts about books from Rebelight…..

German  POWS  in Manitoba

A New Book Set Right Here in Winnipeg 

Writing My First Amazon Review


Filed under Books, History

3 responses to “Red Stone

  1. Many thanks for reading Red Stone and posting about it! It’s the first review for this new edition. Great photos! The stork on Red Stone was taken during my own trip to Ukraine and I was thrilled to see the designer incorporate it onto the cover. Interesting shot of the brick windmill. My grandfather’s was built of wood. My kulak family were Lutherans and Baptists clustered in the Volhynia area—just west of Kiev. Learning about the subtle differences and similarities between these groups of ethnic Germans is fascinating. Did you know that Gorbachev’s family was also kulak? True.


    • Dear Gabe,
      I throughly enjoyed Red Stone. Your comment reminded me that I hadn’t included an image of the gorgeous cover of your book designed by Melanie Matheson. I had it downloaded but then forgot to insert it into the post. I’ve added it now. MaryLou


  2. Chrissie Dyck

    My fourth great grandfather built windmills in all of the Mennonite villages, and the last one standing was in his town. I’m glad you’ve taken a liking to the picture. Jacob Jacob Dyck, 1826–1914,
    BIRTH 2 AUG 1826 • Muntau, Molotschna Colony, Kuban, South Russia

    Liked by 1 person

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