Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

So I feel lazy and I'm using the book summary from the back of the book instead of typing up my own summary:
"St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to her son, the headstrong prince Alyosha, who suffers from hemophilia. Soon after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and the Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha find solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, and to distract the prince from the pain she cannot heal, Masha tells him stories—some embellished and others entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s exploits, and their wild and wonderful country, now on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand."

This was one of those books that I wanted badly and then didn't read for about a year.  I would pick it up and then put it back because I wasn't sure if I would like it.  I love history, but I am not really at all familiar with the Romanov's.  Unless you count the Anastasia movie from the 90s with Meg Ryan as the voice of Anastasia, which I am super sure is not at all historically acurate.  Bats, after all, don't really talk.

And it they do someone better tell me.

So back to what I was saying.  I wasn't sure if I would be captivated by the book.  And I was so wrong.  I fell in love with Alyosha, the heir to the throne, who suffered from hemophilia.  And Masha, one of Rasputin's daughters who basically becomes Alyosha's companion after her father is killed.  Their relationship was beautiful.  They have an obvious connection in the book that was so sweet but also heart wrenching because, well, we all know what happened in real life to the Romanov's. 

I loved Alyosha in this book.  He was constantly sick, but he was very strong on the inside.  I think he guessed what was going to happen to his family before the rest of them. 

As for historical aspects, I really can't say how accurate certain parts were because I no pretty much nothing about this part of Russian history.  But the book was written so well that I was ready to believe that this was a real story, which says something about the writing.

This was a wonderful, enchanting book about innocent love.  I was left pondering for days afterward what would have blossomed between Masha and Alyosha had history been different.  I definitely recommend this one :)

A passage that I adored and personally connected with:
Page 56: Alyosha nodded.  "Are you afraid?" He asked after a moment.
"Of what?"
"Of living without him."
"No.  Maybe.  I don't know what I thought it was before - someone dying.  Someone who isn't a stranger but a person you love.  Now that I do, its...Nothing's the same.  Or it's me that's not the same.  No matter what I'm doing, or even if I'm doing nothing, it's like looking at a picture hanging on the wall and seeing it's crooked.  In my mind, I keep trying to adjust it, whatever it is, and stepping back to consider.  But it's me that's the problem.  I'm listing in some way I can't correct."

Title: Enchantments
Author: Kathryn Harrison
Date of Publication: 2012
Number of Pages: 311
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal Copy

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