Published by: HarperCollins
Published on: August 28, 2012
Page Count: 256
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: eGalley provided by the publisher for consideration
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
A great fire brought Dasha’s cousins Xenia, Nadya into her family home to live with her as sisters. They grew up together, but x and Xenia were the beauties. When the time came to make matches, both quickly found husbands. The wealth of x’s husband made her marriage advantageous, but Xenia, who was prone to make her wishes reality, married a gifted court singer for love. Nadya remained unmarried and when her parents fully despaired for her future, Xenia and her husband gladly took her in. From here, y watched a young couple in love deal with life in the Russian court and then come to grips with unbearable loss.
Xenia is an actual historical figure. Because I don’t want to include any spoilers in my review, I won’t explain here why her life would be interesting to modern day readers. I did enjoy her character very much, although I wish that she would have been able to have kept hold of her youthful exuberance. Watching her life evolve was quite interesting. Everyone responds to grief differently and I was curious about what it was within her and in her environment that would prompt her to make the decisions she did. Readers will not soon forget Xenia.
Dasha’s character was also interesting. She found herself to be seemingly unmarriageable in an age when this was a fate worse than death. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was about her that made her difficult to be matched other than she was plain and extremely reserved. Perhaps if her father held a higher position there wouldn’t have been an issue. Nearly left to her own devices by her parents, she was able to make a rather unorthodox match. I found her adult life to be some of the most intriguing parts of the book. I would be curious to talk with others who have read the book about her life choices. Although I’m not sure whether this would have ever been possible, I had no issues opening myself to it and exploring it with Dasha.
2012 has been the year of historical fiction set in Russia for me. I wanted to read The Mirrored World before I realized that it was written by Debra Dean, the author of The Madonnas of Leningrad. Although I can’t say that I enjoyed The Mirrored World as much as The Madonnas of Leningrad, it was really very good. Debra Dean made Dasha and Xenia’s world come to life in my imagination. I could feel the snow under my feet as they walked the streets and I could hear the wonderful singing at Court. In a country ruled by the chaos of the events leading up to the reign of Catherine the Great, I could see where someone like Xenia would arise and create awareness for the poor and the orphan. Debra Dean is a great voice in historical fiction and I hope she continues to highlight the unique personality and history of Russia.