cover image Emily


Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. St. Martin's Press, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-09794-3

Emily Paget, granddaughter of the Earl of Oxhey and great granddaughter of Count Peter Kirov, is taken from genteel English poverty to life as a Russian princess and then to the terror of the 1917 revolution in this third and final installment in the Kirov trilogy (after Anna and Fleur ). In sometimes dangerously Dickensian prose, Harrod-Eagles describes Emily's infatuation with Prince Basil Narishkin, their courtship and the subsequent training in the exigencies of Imperial life undertaken by her Russian countess grandmother and a distant relative, the curmudgeonly Lady Hamilton. Emily takes in the glittering city of St. Petersburg, the czar and even Rasputin with a combination of naivete and common sense but her marriage to the moody and often cruel Basil soon makes her miserable. Then she meets the novel's beautifully realized hero, Basil's cousin Alexei. In the increasingly chaotic politics of Russia, their touching, believable love grows. When Basil and Alexei go off to war, it is Emily who cares for Alexei's children and wife during the dangers of 1917. The final resolution in England is predictable but sweet nonetheless. Readers of the trilogy should enjoy entering Harrod-Eagles's world again. (Dec.)