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A review of Telmenu Saimnieks by Guntis Goncarovs


An epic love story set in Latvia during World War One. The hero, despite his father's expectations to be the future Lord of Telmeni, chooses to be an officer in the Czarist cavalry and then a hero. However, his life's constant changes perplex him and his extraordinary experiences make him eventually find what he was looking for .

Reviewed by Liana Metal


By Guntis Goncarovs

Writers' Showcase Press, iuniverse , Inc., 5220 S. 16th St., Suite 200, Lincoln, NE 68512, ,2002, paperback, ISBN 0-595-22448-2

U.S. $ 21.95 , CAN $ 35.95, UK 18.99, 431 pp, Highly Recommended

Guntis Goncarovs , educated in chemistry, enjoys plotting out his ancestoral lineage in his first novel in a planned series of three about Telmeni and her family. The author has studied Latvia and family history for over twenty years and he presently lives with his family in N.Carolina.

The story unfolds at the brink of World War 1, in 1912, at Riga, in Russian controlled Latvia. Captain Voldemars Vechi, the hero of the story, is a young officer who is in love with Otilija , a beautiful bookkeeper who eventually is strong minded enough to turn down his proposal for a prompt wedding. The hero, due to his duties at the Czarist cavalry, is leaving urgently while the Great World War sparks to life. Voldemars will be home in six months. Will Otilija be waiting for him?

" 'I can survive six months,' he thought, closing his eyes," the author writes.

Voldemars fights in the front but soon retreats home seriously injured. His life is a constant battle among his country, his heart and heritage, Latvia and Telmeni. His struggle between his loyalty to the Czar, his own country's rise for independence, his father's desire for his future, and the welfare of his wife and daughter make Voldemars feeling perplexed. What is he finally going to choose? What is his destiny? Will he ever find peace of mind and happiness?

TELMENU SAIMNIEKS is a grand love story that involves strong characters action set in a historical background . It is also a family saga in a wartime setting which could be still happening today. The first chapter is fast-paced, as the rest of the story is, and captivating, introducing the reader to the heroes of the novel. Vivid dialogue in every scene makes this book easy and highly enjoyable to read as well.

Guntis Goncarovs touches our hearts from the very first pages of the book, so that the reader cannot put the novel down. Rich in emotions and detailed description TELMENU SAIMNIEKS is an excellent historical novel that involves alternate feelings of love and tragedy, friendship and hatred. Highly emotional pieces can be found everywhere in this story. Otilija giving birth, and Voldemars horse dying in the battle field are only two of the lot. Some other parts emit strong barbarism and cruelty :

'At the third carcass ,two men hunched over the still steaming flanks , hacking at the meat with bloody knifes, ripping out chunks with bare, dripping hands.'

The author expresses his beliefs on several aspects such as the concept of deceit:

'You cant be perfect! What you did was a simple error in judgement. A completely understandable error. Dont you think you should allow yourself a mistake now and then?'

In another part he speaks about Atheism: 'After all the pushing my father did, making me go to church and bare my soul ,I vowed I would never go back. But there I was! Just like I was a little boy again, twenty years ago, head bowed, hands folded, ...I dont even remember why I went there.'

The novel also includes political views : '...I remember how you Russians brutalized thousands of us in the name of that damned Czar of yours! ...How the blood filled the streets! That will never fade in my mind or any Armenians mind.'

TELMENU SAIMNIEKS is a novel that has got all the elements of a best seller, that is to say, it involves love, war, conspiracy, friendship and evil, all in a proportional combination to the very end of the story where the hero finds inner peace. It is a journey of the soul through challenging situations to the ultimate transformation .

The plot is absorbing and the writing style is simple. Being a historical novel, it also contains segments of history, customs and culture of the Russians, Cossacks and the Latvians . The reader thinks he is actually there, experiencing every single fraction of action the characters perform. Native words are used adding a tint of regional culture and flavor, a certain plus to the story.

This book is a highly enjoyable novel that caters for both fiction lovers and for all of those who like historical novels .

The book cover is an actual photo of the farmhouse and land and Telmeni is the name of the farmland which had been passed down through the generations of the Vechi/Krebs family.

For more information about Latvia, Saimnieks and Goncarovs, visit

Here you can read the author's bio, browse the historical preface and chapter one of the book, sign the guest book , and even provide your own comments. You can contact the author at


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