Montefiore weaves intrigue, love and history into a satisfying novel. He takes a variety of historic events and combines them into a plot that illustrates the instability of Stalin and his regime. Ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives at a time when an innocent comment heard by the wrong person can result in years in prison or "6 grams in the back of the neck". I have come to love the character of Hercules Stainov. This novel fills in additional years of his life.
Phooey! Unconvincing sentimental twaddle suitable for a Hollywood B-movie - a disappointment from the author of two credible non-fiction accounts of the Reign of Terror under Stalin. It might have been better to have based the story on actual people and events as in the case of the excellent story depicted in the film, East West. Truth is always scarier than fiction. In the absence of authentic accounting, I would prefer narrative by contemporary Russian writers themselves, those who remember or whose parents remember the terrifying knock on the door in the middle of the night and the sound of footsteps as a neighbor or relative is frogmarched away to his doom.
I really enjoyed this piece of historical fiction that takes place in Stalin controlled Russia. A harmless children's game ending in tragedy sparks an investigation that leads to the arrest and interrogation of the children belonging to Stalin's elite group of advisers. As the book progresses, the situation becomes bleaker and bleaker, building dread and tension the whole time. Inspired by a true story.
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