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Summary Enchantments

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOKFrom Kathryn Harrison one of America’s most admired literary voices comes a gorgeously written enthralling novel set in the final days of Russia’s Romanov Empire   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 including the headstrong Prince Alyosha Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s miraculous healing p Good God in heaven my eyeballs hurt There is a scene in which Nagorny troops off with the Tsarevich to get him deflowered by a local peasant girl There is a scene in which the bullet riddled bodies of the Grand Duchesses appear to Mashka that would be Maria Rasputin to US just to let her know that Alyosha the Sunbeam is thinking about her inside a Faberge egg in the afterlife If that sentence made sense to you this is the book for you Otherwise run like a deer It is enough to make that crap novel that Carolly Erickson wrote about Tatiana look like Dostoevski

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Enchantments

Lished and some entirely imagined about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship Rasputin’s many exploits and the wild and wonderful country 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   Mesmerizing haunting and told in Kathryn Harrison’s signature crystalline prose Enchantments is a love story about two people who come together as everything around them is falling apart I desperately wanted to love this book The cover the Romanov s the tragedy of Russia during this time period it should all add up to be heart wrenchingly beautiful but it was lacking a bit for meThere s no doubt that Kathryn Harrison is a writer who commands attention she had to have been otherwise I think I may have put the book down about halfway through Instead I persevered muddling my way through fragments of stories until I reached the end I think what it boiled down to was there were too many shifts shifts of perspectivestoriestime periods I understand what Harrison was attempting to do and give her high marks for taking on such a complicated subject but I felt as if I was being stretched back and forth repeatedly while reading Enchantments until I was just wrung tight worn out and exhausted by merely reading the bookI ve read another book about Rasputin s daughter one by Robert Alexander and the story was completely different so I appreciated the perspective put forth in this book did you know Rasputin s daughter joined a circus I had no idea I think if you are a fan of Russian history and have a love for stories about the Romanov s this is a book that will interest you but I recommend it with a warning just be prepared to feel like a bit of a patchwork uilt has been read

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Owers Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to Aloysha who suffers from hemophilia a blood disease that keeps the boy confined to his sickbed lest a simple scrape or bump prove fatal   Two months after Masha arrives at the palace the tsar is forced to abdicate and Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest As Russia descends into civil war Masha and Alyosha grieve the loss of their former lives finding solace in each other’s company To escape the confinement of the palace they tell stories some embel 35 Stars I was really looking forward to reading a novel of Rasputin s daughter and I was even pleased to discover that Alexei Nikolaevich the doomed Romanov tsarevich was such a central figure to the novel This is a novel about the last days of the Romanovs but in this story the four princesses take a back seat to their younger brother This is a book for Alexei and I like thatAfter her father is murdered eighteen year old Masha Rasputin along with her younger sister Varya is taken into the Romanov household and not long after Tsar Nicholas is forced to abdicate and the Romanov household is placed under house arrest Missing her father unsure of her place unsure of the fate of the family who has taken her in she forms a friendship with Alyosha as Alexei is called by his loved ones He is a smart young man stoic and realistic and so wise for someone kept so sheltered Because of his illness his family lives in fear of him hurting himself and Alyosha has to live mostly through his imagination Masha entertains him by weaving fairy tales and discussing history and literature with him by retelling anecdotes from her father s storied life and from Alyosha s parents courtship by imagining with him a life he will never have But her stories aren t always happy ones she and Alyosha are both able to look upon the shared religious fanaticism of their parents with open and honest eyes and Alyosha is able to comment on his father s failings as a ruler with surprising clarity and compassion Fascinated by the French Revolution and well versed on the subject he calmly draws frightening comparisons and fateful predictions for his familyMasha s stories for the tsarevich are interspersed with her own recollections of her father s humble beginnings and rise to fame and the circumstances leading up to his death and with Masha s ordeal after she is released from the Romanovs prison as she tries to put some sort of a life together Against the odds she goes on to fulfill some of her lifelong dreams while keeping the Romanovs alive in her heart It s all uite interesting but her narrative jumps back and forth in time so much and somewhat randomly so that the story feels loose and disjointed and I think it also contributed to my feeling of not really getting to know MashaWhile there are some moments of joyful imagination and fantasy and despite his fatalism a burning in Alexei to experience all he can of life before the end overall the story is one of sadness and strife and it left me with a heavy heart Though the meat of the novel Masha and her relationship with the tsarevich is purely fictional the historical backdrop is very real and very intense The setting of St Petersburg comes to life and I particularly enjoyed the depictions of the city and her people The writing is lovely and Masha makes some beautifully phrased observations but it s also wordy and heavy on the introspection and commentary and I found myself skimming a bit to get to the end While I did not find the physical relationship that developed between Masha and Alexei to be at all unbelievable in fact I thought it was uite natural given the circumstances I was a bit put off by the entries at the end from a purely fictional journal of Alyosha s that survived his death and made its way to Masha as its contents seem to be designed to titillate than anything else But I always enjoy reading about Russia in fiction and this is a very different approach to the Romanovs and I liked that Harrison was able to inject some romance and escapism into such a tragedy


10 thoughts on “Enchantments

  1. says:

    Lots of pretty words not much substanceClearly this book is much too literary for my tastes and I should know by now to look for that at the top of book promo and run the other way This what if book begins with the death of Rasputin and his two daughters are taken into the royal household with the hopes that eldest daughter Masha has her father's gift of healing Masha spends lots and lots of time with the young tsarevich and to pass the t

  2. says:

    Good God in heaven my eyeballs hurt There is a scene in which Nagorny troops off with the Tsarevich to get him deflowered by a local peasant girl There is a scene in which the bullet riddled bodies of the Grand Duchesses appear to

  3. says:

    Rasputin LiveI haven’t read Harrison in years though I enjoyed her earlier works Reading “Enchantments” felt like a ho

  4. says:

    I read about 60 pages of this book and then gave up I love love love Romanov stories but this one is terribleThe author writes in a meandering tone and shifts the setting of what's currently going on without warning At one point you're reading

  5. says:

    Read This Review More Like It On My BlogYou may not know Matryona Grigorievna by her first two names but you will recognize her last infamous name Rasputina The daughter of either Russia's most famous eccentric and healer or her most prolific sham depending on who is asked Masha's uniue and by turns sad very strange and m

  6. says:

    35 Stars I was really looking forward to reading a novel of Rasputin's daughter and I was even pleased to discover that Alexei Nikolaevich the doomed Romanov tsarevich was such a central figure to the novel This

  7. says:

    The Romanovs have their own special cottage industry in historical fiction The romances the revolution the eggs the hemophi

  8. says:

    I desperately wanted to love this book The cover the Romanov's the tragedy of Russia during this time period it should all add up to be heart wrenchingly beautiful but it was lacking a bit for meThere's no doubt that Kathryn Harrison is a writer who commands attention she had to have been otherwise I think I may have put the book down about halfway through Instead I persevered muddling my way through fragments of stories until I

  9. says:

    I love learning new things Usually they come in the form of lessons“Slamming your hand in the oven hurts”“Trees don’t move avoid running into them”“Leave the guntake the canoli”but in that rare opportunity that I get to expand my brain under the assumption of pure entertainment I get giddyWhen I was in High School Disney released a movie called “Anastasia” I loved this movie Don’t judge me and as a result became unaba

  10. says:

    This fictional book follows one of Rasputin’s daughters after he has been murdered She a teenager by this time goes to live with the Romanovs and is there I think when they are taken away before they are murdered I can’t really t