Lidia Alexeyevna Charskaya (31 January 187518 March 1938; her real last name was Churilova) was a Russian writer and actress. Her young adult books, wildly popular in Russia in the early 20th century, are usually focused on spirited heroines. The most famous ones have a Boarding School setting, but she also wrote historical novels, adventure stories, short stories for adults, and even fairy tales.
Her works were banned and gradually fell into oblivion in the Soviet Union (forcing her to spend her last years in poverty), but after the 1980s, they began to get published again, and while in no way near to her previous "womens author number one" status, now Charskaya is quite well-known once more.
Works with their own pages:
Tropes common to Charskayas works:
- Anyone Can Die: Its not that there are many deaths per novel, but nobody is safe. Not even Princess Dzhavakha, the main character of two novels and fan favorite number one.
- Bittersweet Ending: Fairly often, the ending includes some nice character dying or at least the hero or heroine saying goodbye to their friends/family/home/old life/all at once.
- Boarding School of Horrors: Whether you are a student or a teacher, a princess or a village orphan, your life at a boarding school rarely has a good start. However, it usually gets better closer to the ending.
- Coming-of-Age Story: For many of the novels, thats the point.
- Darker and Edgier: Charskayas adult (and it means adult) short stories are extremely cynical and dark, especially those written during the First World War.
- Fish out of Water: Loads of variations. "Village girl in a city" (like in The Orphanage Girls), "spoiled Daddy's Girl away from her family" (like in For What? and its sequels), "Tomboy Princess at a school for proper ladies" (like in Princess Dzhavakha) etc.
- Fractured Fairytale: Many of her fairytales are more like deconstructions. A special mention goes to Fairytale's Daughter which is a Take That! at the entire genre: lovely Queen Fairytale lives in an enchanted forest and tells wonderful stories to birds and animals, while her estranged ugly daughter Princess Truth is hated by everyone there, but eventually marries King Justice and goes to live in the human world and make it better, and Fairytale stays with her forest and her stories.
- Friendship Moment: Since her stories are mainly focused on Power of Friendship (romance, if it happens, being usually a background plot), there are lots of these.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Two frequent variations.
- Reality Ensues: Many examples.
- A badass Tomboy Princess who has lived through lots of dangers in her native mountains in Princess Dzhavakha succumbs to tuberculosis, with additional factors being the cold climate she isnt used to and the stress she faces at the institute in Memoirs of an Institute Girl.
- Wars arent made of parades and easy victories. Wartime means bloodshed, cruelty and your loved ones getting hurt as Nadezhda Durova learns the hard way in A Brave Life.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Though, according to Common Knowledge, everything Charskaya wrote is sugarcoated idealism, she has works on both ends of the scale (see Darker and Edgier above), as well as many (such as the Dzhavakha saga) in-between.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Deconstructed every time any heroine believes herself to be a character of a stereotypical adventure, or romance, or fairytale. For example, as Princess Dzhavakha comes to realize, running away from home to escape a potential Wicked Stepmother is not a cool and heroic idea, since: a) her father and everyone in the household get heartbroken, believing her dead; b) a preteen girl alone and on foot and in the mountains will hardly survive for long.