Kathryn Harrison. Random, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6347-5
When the rascally Grigory Rasputin is murdered during the final days of czarist Russia, his two daughters are left in the care of the doomed royal family. In this disappointing novel, Harrison (The Kiss) imagines the interior life of the eldest girl, Masha, 18 at the time of her father’s death, as she grows close to the young Alexei Nikolaevich, the famously hemophiliac son of the deposed czar. The “Mad Monk” Rasputin, with his women and his alleged healing powers, must be one of history’s most intriguing characters, so it’s hard to go wrong in his company. Unfortunately, despite such riveting material, the book’s language remains flat, the experiences and emotions of its characters never quite coming to life. Undeniably well researched, some details are truly fascinating: the Romanov girls sewing jewels into their undergarments and the amount of gasoline (150 gallons) used to burn corpses in an abandoned mine shaft. Seminal aspects of Masha’s later life, however, feel weakly sketched. Some interesting texture is achieved through the pacing and the later discovery of Alexei’s journal, but as often as not, the configuration leaves the novel feeling at once predictable and scattered. Agent: Amanda Urban. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/05/2011
Release date: 03/06/2012
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 314 pages - 978-0-00-747647-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-96971-2
Open Ebook - 207 pages - 978-0-679-64423-1
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-00-745606-2
Hardcover - 423 pages - 978-1-61173-395-2
Paperback - 329 pages - 978-0-8129-7377-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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