read for: tbr challenge, year of the historical challenge
*may contain spoilers*
I know that when you get right down to it people are not that easy to kill.
Switching back and forth between two points of view, this is the story of the last years of Tsarist Russia. Ella, Grand Duchess of Russia and sister to the Tsarista, lives through the bloody revolution as she becomes closer and closer to God, eventually taking the veil and becoming an Abbess and founding a Russian Orthodox convent devoted to charity. Pavel, a poor Russian peasant whose wife and unborn child were killed on Bloody Sunday, lives through the bloody revolution in a cloud of rage with a need for revenge, becoming an important member of the Revolutionaries. Eventually, their paths will meet.
I thought this was a decent read. I knew nothing about Grand Duchess Elisabeth before reading this. Most of what I know about the Romanovs is about Nicholas and Alexandra and their children, not any of their other relatives. She was pretty impressive. Once her husband was killed, I really enjoyed reading the chapters she narrated and hearing about how she left royal life and opened her convent and hospital.
While I thought it was a good idea to have the two narrators on extremely opposite sides of the revolution, I wasn't as engaged in the chapters narrated by Pavel. His character only rarely drew me in. I only became interested during the times when I saw a little humanity return to him, such as when he found the Minister's children after the Minister's house was bombed or during the times when his path crossed with the Grand Duchess. But the chapters in between, detailing his time as a revolutionary, were just not as engaging. And I wish we could have gotten a little more detail about how he ended up where he did.
I also was occasionally a little put off by some odd turns of phrase throughout the book. Some of it I chalked up to typos. There was definitely more than once that I noticed some odd grammar choices and some weird sentence structure. Things like that can easily pull me out of a story.
Not bad, but not my favorite either.