In nineteenth-century Russia, the stability of the family was seen as paramount for creating a stable state. As a leading Church father declared in 1861: “[t]he state consists of families. Disorder in the constituent parts causes disorder in the whole.” Given this belief, it is striking how few Russian novels culminate in the creation of secure, harmonious families. While the classic English family novel traditionally closes with wedding bells and the birth of an heir, marriage plots in the Russian novel almost never lead to a happy family. Russian authors were avid readers of English literature, considered the English the masters of writing about family, and often responded directly to English models, so why did their plot resolutions diverge so strongly from the English, returning again and again to the trope of the “failed” marriage plot? And if marriage was not the path to stable family in the Russian novel, did novelists offer up an alternative? This talk explores the way differing historical conceptions of the family shaped novel plotlines in the two national traditions. It suggests that while the English viewed family vertically—focusing on lineage across time—the Russians had a more synchronic view and that their path to family lay in intentionally choosing to make others kin in the here-and-now.