Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Enchantments-Kathryn Harrison


Kathryn Harrison

Random House, Mar 6 2012, $27.00

ISBN: 9781400063475

In 1917 hemophiliac Rasputin is found dead in the Neva River. Tsarina Alexandra worries about the health of her son Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov as the late Mad Monk was his healer in the lad’s on-going battle with hemophilia at a time when pressure mounts for her husband Tsar Nikoly to abdicate. Rasputin names the Tsar as guardian to his two teenage daughters. However, the Tsarina has a different reason to send for Rasputin’s oldest child, eighteen years old Masha, as she hopes the child inherited her father’s power so she can tend to her offspring.

Masha and her sister Varya take the train from St. Petersburg to Tsarskie Selo as they journey to The Alexander palace where the former Russian royal family resides. Masha lacks the legendary skills of her infamous sire, but she and Alyosha as she calls Alex become friends. Two months after the sisters arrive, the Tsar and his family is placed under house arrest. The pair shares tales to pass time, alleviate their fears, and not dwell on what is lost.

This is an interesting work of historical fiction that focuses on the last months of the Romanovs through the eyes of Rasputin’s daughter. The tidbits of Tsarist life in the early twentieth century is vivid and insightful as the audience get to know a lot about the family of the last Russian ruler and Rasputin. However, neither Masha nor Alyosha seem fully developed beyond their stories and friendship. Still this is an engaging look at the final days of the Romanov dynasty.

Harriet Klausner

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