Looking for non-depressing fiction about Russia (any time period). Is there an equivalent to Connie Willis's wonderful
I'm going to be visiting St. Petersburg and Moscow this summer - yay! - and I want to prepare by reading a lot. I've found old questions
that are full of good suggestions for nonfiction (and I plan to take you all up on it), but I'm also looking for something a bit different.
I realize that Russia has had rather a rough go of things, but it's definitely possible to write books about dark periods in history that aren't in themselves depressing. I have a lot of respect for Dostoevsky, but I've had rather a rough last month and I don't think I can handle reading exclusively that sort of thing. I'm looking for something that will give me a strong sense of place (and, ideally, teach me some history), but where the sympathetic characters don't all die in the end. I'm sure there are a lot of such books, but usually you can't tell until you get to the end, and it's hard to tell which ones will be any good.
Time travel is, as always, a bonus :)