About the Book:
• Hardcover: 256 pages
• Publisher: Harper (August 28, 2012)
• Publisher: Harper (August 28, 2012)
The bestselling author of The Madonnas of Leningrad returns with a breathtaking novel of love, madness, and devotion set against the extravagant royal court of eighteenth-century St. Petersburg.
Born to a Russian family of lower nobility, Xenia, an eccentric dreamer who cares little for social conventions, falls in love with Andrei, a charismatic soldier and singer in the Empress’s Imperial choir. Though husband and wife adore each other, their happiness is overshadowed by the absurd demands of life at the royal court and by Xenia’s growing obsession with having a child—a desperate need that is at last fulfilled with the birth of her daughter. But then a tragic vision comes true, and a shattered Xenia descends into grief, undergoing a profound transformation that alters the course of her life. Turning away from family and friends, she begins giving all her money and possessions to the poor. Then, one day, she mysteriously vanishes.
Years later, dressed in the tatters of her husband’s military uniform and answering only to his name, Xenia is discovered tending the paupers of St. Petersburg’s slums. Revered as a soothsayer and a blessed healer to the downtrodden, she is feared by the royal court and its new Empress, Catherine, who perceives her deeds as a rebuke to their lavish excesses. In this evocative and elegantly written tale, Dean reimagines the intriguing life of Xenia of St. Petersburg, a patron saint of her city and one of Russia’s most mysterious and beloved holy figures. This is an exploration of the blessings of loyal friendship, the limits of reason, and the true costs of loving deeply.
About the Author:
Debra Dean’s bestselling debut novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a #1 Booksense Pick, a Booklist Top Ten Novel, and an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year. It has been published in twenty languages. Her collection of short stories,Confessions of a Falling Woman, won the Paterson Fiction Prize and a Florida Book Award.
Her new novel, The Mirrored World, will be released August 2012.
A native of Seattle, she lives in Miami and teaches at Florida International University.
Connect with Debra on Facebook.
This is tale of life in St. Petersburg as a young woman of the minor nobility loses her mind after the death of her child then her husband. Told through the eyes of a fictional cousin, this tale of the woman who would become St. Xenia is dark, mysterious and compelling. It is, though as much the story of the cousin as it is of Xenia.
The story is very interesting and the history of Russia is always fascinating. Fact and fiction are woven together well to create a mood that is dark and unsettled. Xenia has a knack for seeing the future and this disturbs her family; she is a very free spirit in a time of circumspection. When she loves, she loves completely and this is what leads to her downfall when she loses all that is dear to her.
The book is not long and Ms. Deans writing style brings you into the story despite its dark overtones. Xenia is a fascinating character and I truly wish there had been more of her but I suppose there can only be so much wandering around the poor sections of town in a husband's uniform before there is no story. The family stories are very interesting and help to bind Xenia's life choices together. I enjoyed the story and Ms. Dean's descriptive passages.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of The Mirrored World from TLC Book Tours gratis. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.