Enchantments

( 17 )

Overview

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

From 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 ...

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Enchantments

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Overview

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

From 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 powers, 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 embellished 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When the rascally Grigory Rasputin is murdered during the final days of czarist Russia, his two daughters are left in the care of the doomed royal family. In this disappointing novel, Harrison (The Kiss) imagines the interior life of the eldest girl, Masha, 18 at the time of her father’s death, as she grows close to the young Alexei Nikolaevich, the famously hemophiliac son of the deposed czar. The “Mad Monk” Rasputin, with his women and his alleged healing powers, must be one of history’s most intriguing characters, so it’s hard to go wrong in his company. Unfortunately, despite such riveting material, the book’s language remains flat, the experiences and emotions of its characters never quite coming to life. Undeniably well researched, some details are truly fascinating: the Romanov girls sewing jewels into their undergarments and the amount of gasoline (150 gallons) used to burn corpses in an abandoned mine shaft. Seminal aspects of Masha’s later life, however, feel weakly sketched. Some interesting texture is achieved through the pacing and the later discovery of Alexei’s journal, but as often as not, the configuration leaves the novel feeling at once predictable and scattered. Agent: Amanda Urban. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“[A] splendid and surprising book....Kathryn Harrison has given us something enduring – the last romantic figure of the [Romanov] era, a whip-cracking circus girl who was once an intimate part of a dying empire.”
New York Times Book Review
 
“Part love story, part history, this novel is a tour de force....[told] in language that soars and sears.”
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“A mesmerizing novel.”
O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“Kathryn Harrison triumphantly returns to her historical fiction roots with Enchantments, the sweeping (and wholly imagined) story of love between two unlikely allies....Harrison takes a particular moment in time and brings it to stunning life....re-imagining history—and a love story—in a completely new way.”
Bookpage
 
“A surreal tale fueled by a legendarily randy real-life healer and his lion-taming daughter....A scrupulously researched retelling of the fiery end of Russia….Most of all, Enchantments is about the irreducible mysteries of human motivation.”
Elle

"A sumptuous, atmospheric account of the last days of the Romanovs from the perspective of Rasputin’s daughter, Enchantments animates a kaleidoscopic breadth of historical detail with the sensuous, transporting prose that is Kathryn Harrison’s trademark."
—JENNIFER EGAN, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad

“Ask yourself who, in all the world, would be the best novelist to imagine being Rasputin’s daughter. Kathryn Harrison makes the answer obvious. Her Enchantments is a stupendous work of historical imagination.”
—PETER CAREY, author of Parrot and Olivier in America
 
“Kathryn Harrison locates within the crevices of history moments of poetry and passion that electrify the reader. In Enchantments, Ms. Harrison takes us on a magic carpet ride to Russia one hundred years ago, and with perfect grace, impeccable style, and great narrative flair, she gives us a whole wounded world that is for the course of this utterly compelling novel as real as our own lives. Actually: more.”
—SCOTT SPENCER, author of Man in the Woods and Endless Love
 
Enchantments is wonderful: fascinating, informative, historically persuasive, and full of sympathy and tenderness for its endearing characters. This is Kathryn Harrison at her lyrical best.”
—RON HANSEN, author of A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion 

"[A] bewitching historical novel about the infamous demise of a legendary dynasty....Harrison sets historic facts like jewels in this intricately fashioned work of exalted empathy and imagination, a literary Fabergé egg....[A] dazzling return to historical fiction”
Booklist (starred review)

Library Journal
Harrison's novels always chart heated, dangerously emotional territory, and this one sounds no different—with the added benefit of being set during the Russian Revolution, as riveting a time as one can imagine. After Rasputin is killed, the Romanovs take responsibility for his daughters—and ask 18-year-old Masha to assume her father's job of tending to ailing tsarevitch Alyosha. The two become close, and their very different perspectives give historic scope to a country in turmoil. This should appeal to a wide range of readers—there's history and passion, told in a literary voice. Book club gold.
Library Journal
During the final days of tsarist Russia, the "Mad Monk" Grigory Rasputin enchants the royal family with his healing powers—especially important because the young tsarevitch, Alyosha, suffers from hemophilia. Following Rasputin's murder, his two daughters are taken in by the doomed Romanovs. Eighteen-year-old Masha has enchanting powers as well and spends her time spinning tales for Alyosha to distract him from the constant pain of his disease and then from the chaos around them as the tsar is forced to abdicate and the family is placed under house arrest. Masha's stories reveal glimpses of Rasputin's life, bits of Russian history, and flights of fairy tales. Harrison (Envy) reveals the details of the turbulent era via the unique relationship between these tragic characters. VERDICT Though the narrative can be confusing as Masha's tales move rapidly from reality to fantasy, the ever-fascinating story of the fall of the Romanov dynasty will appeal to readers of historical fiction, especially those who have some understanding of the era's complex political issues. [See Prepub Alert, 10/1/11.]—Susanne Wells, MLS, Indianapolis
Kirkus Reviews
Harrison (While They Slept, 2008, etc.) brings her trademark interest in twisted family relationships to bear in this historical fiction about Rasputin's daughter. When the controversial monk—believed mad by some, a populist holy man by others—is assassinated in 1917, his favorite daughter Masha and her younger sister Varya have been living with their father in St. Petersburg attending school. Weather and political conditions make travel home to their mother in rural Siberia impossible. They are brought to live with Tsar Nicholay's increasingly isolated family. Hoping that Masha has inherited some of her father's magical healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks the girl to attend to 13-year-old Prince Alyosha, who suffers from hemophilia, a condition considered too shocking to reveal. Masha, whose great skill is riding horses bareback, has no healing ability, but she and Alyosha entertain each other with stories about her father's rise from rural, illiterate farmer to itinerant healer to revered holy man, and about Nicholas and Alexandra's doomed union. Masha adored her father and accepted his carousing and womanizing as his due, as did her better-educated mother. There is a gratuitous whiff of incest in Masha's unnecessary denial that there was anything untoward in their relationship. More than a whiff of sexual energy hovers between Alyosha and Masha. Although five years her junior and sickly, he actively pursues her. They do not have intercourse, but Masha allows him favors, his hand roving as they tell their tales. Revolutionary winds are swirling, and the royal family soon finds itself under house arrest. Masha and Alyosha fantasize about escaping to Chicago, but life has other plans. Harrison's rococo prose fits her subject matter, but she adds little to Romanov lore while Rasputin's story, written at arm's length, never comes to life.
Susann Cokal
This splendid and surprising book circles through time and around stories both real and imagined, lending a tender perspective to familiar historical events as experienced by two central characters—Rasputin's daughter Maria, known as Masha, and Alyosha, the hemophiliac Romanov heir—whose physical and emotional suffering acutely remind us of the human lives behind the legends.
—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400063475
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/6/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,449,125
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.92 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathryn Harrison has written the novels Thicker Than Water, Exposure, Poison, The Binding Chair, The Seal Wife, and Envy. Her autobiographical work includes The Kiss, Seeking Rapture, The Road to Santiago, and The Mother Knot. She has also written a biography, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and, most recently, a book of true crime, While They Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family. She lives in New York with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison, and their three children.

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Read an Excerpt

The Hole in the Ice

Behold: in the beginning there was everything, just as there is now. The giant slap of a thunderclap and, bang, it's raining talking snakes.

A greater light to rule the day, a lesser light to rule the night, swarming water and restless air. A man goes down on two knees, a woman opens her thighs, and both hold their breath to listen. Imagining God's footsteps could be heard in the cool of the day. But God walks silently along the bank of the muddy river that flows out of the Garden, the river that divides and becomes many: Usa, Kolva, Yug, Onega. Narva, Obsha, Luga, Okhta. Volycha, Sestra, Uver, Oyat. Volga, Kama, Neva, Ob.

From the windows of the house that was my childhood home, I heard a river running. The Tura hurried past our village to join the Tobol, and the Tobol joined the Irtysh, and the Irtysh joined the Ob, and the Great Ob carried our cries and emptied them into the Kara Sea, which, being frozen, preserved them like flies in amber.

"Go on," Alyosha said whenever I fell silent. "Please, Masha, I like to hear your voice."

And I did; I told him about my father, about me, about Siberia. I told him stories my father told us when we were children. I did whatever I could to distract him.

The day they pulled Father's body out from under the ice, the first day of the new year, 1917, my sister, Varya, and I became wards of Tsar Nikolay Alexandrovich Romanov and were moved, under imperial guard, from the apartment at 64 Gorokhovaya Street to the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, the royal family's private village outside the capital. Eighteen years old, I hardly felt I needed a new set of parents, even if they were a tsar and tsarina. But every week brought more strikes and increasing violence to St. Petersburg. Revolution, anarchy, marshal law: we didn't know what to dread, only that we were accelerating-hurtling-toward it, whatever it was. And, as the tsar's officers pointed out, having summoned Varya and me from our beds before dawn, banging at the door with the butts of their rifles, anyone with a name as inflammatory as Rasputin would be an idiot to try to leave St. Petersburg unaided and without protection. As long as the Romanovs remained in power, they represented our only possibility of escaping Russia before it was too late to get out.

But first: my father. For without Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, the end of the Romanovs is no different from that of the Hapsburgs or the Ottomans or any other of the great dynasties that collapsed at the beginning of the century.

Word traveled quickly, more quickly than it would had any other man's body been dragged from the river. After I signed a paper confirming that the deceased was indeed my father, missing by then for three days, the police escort was to return Varya and me to Gorokhovaya Street to gather our clothes and what few things we cared to keep. But before we could climb back into the sledge it was surrounded by a mob. A crowd of people had come running to where we'd stood minutes before, on the frozen river. They came from their homes with bowls and jugs and cast-iron kettles-anything that could hold water. Some ran pouring wine and vodka, even perfume, into the gutters as they hurried to the Neva to fill their newly emptied bottles. I saw a samovar so big it required three men to carry it, and I saw an old woman lugging a chamber pot. Now, that would have made Father laugh until he hooted and howled and dried his eyes with the heels of his hands-the idea of an old crone ladling his ghost into her chamber pot.

The crowd surged onto the river like a wave and swept all the officials away from the hole in the ice, the one out of which the police had dragged my father, beaten and bloodied, his right hand raised as if making the sign of the cross. People thronged the hole. They fell on their knees, praying and weeping. The common people, the people my father loved, all along they understood what the intelligentsia were too blind to see. They wanted the water that touched my father as he was dying, the water into which his soul had passed, through which it had swum.

Thousands of people, tens of thousands-the officials lost count as they continued to arrive-came to the Neva that day and the next and the one after that. They came and they came and they wouldn't stop coming, from all parts of the city and from the outlying towns and provinces. They came over the Urals, from Siberia. Nothing could stop them, not blizzards, not cavalry soldiers. Squadrons of Cossacks on horseback took aim and fired into the crowds, and their nervous mounts reared up and came down plunging, their shoes striking sparks from the paving stones, pale pricks in the freezing gloom.

For all the horses I'd ridden in my life, I'd never seen any as spirited as these. Towering black giants, not one of them less than twenty hands high, they weren't shying at the noise and chaos-no, that was what they wanted, an orgy of movement and sound. The dark luster of each animal's coat; the volatile quiver of its flesh as it responded to its rider's intent, not to his hands, which were busy with a firearm, but to his will, which commanded the horse's body as if it were his own; the nostrils flared wide at the smell of gunpowder; the shrill whinnying and the sharp gleam of each hoof: in an instant, the sight and sound and smell of them had, like a whetted blade, pared away the rind of shock that left me, in the wake of my father's disappearance, insensible to every feeling.

I watched, struck still with wonder, as the air around the horses changed color, like iron held over a flame, stealing its heat. The officer who had his gloved fingers wrapped tightly around the top of my arm gave it a shake, as if to dispel what he must have assumed was my fear. But all it was was my succumbing to them, allowing their desire to possess me to the point that I wanted it too-the crumple and yield of bodies under hooves. Then the clamor around me ceased, all the clatter and cries and sharp cracks converged into words only I could hear, and my father's voice spoke my name. Masha, he said, be comforted, and though I wasn't faint, I fell back so the officer had to support my weight. At last something had caught and cut me, made me gasp. Until that moment, I was afraid I'd lost not only my father but myself as well.

The crowd thinned, eventually it did, but not before opportunists had set up shop along the riverbank, selling empty jars and bottles to anyone who hadn't brought one, as well as hawking bread, cheese, pomegranates, kvass and vodka by the glass, cider dipped from a pot hanging over a fire. Day and night, pilgrims stepped around and over stiffening corpses as they walked past the armed soldiers and onto the river, the gray ice of its surface slick with freezing fresh blood. They slipped and scrambled and pushed one another aside to reach the hole in the ice, because the water my father touched he made powerful. For the rest of that terrible winter, the last of the Romanovs' rule, St. Petersburg shuddered under one riot after another, and her citizens' blood remained on the ice under the Petrovsky Bridge.

At noon one February day, nearly two months after my father was murdered, I returned to that bridge and stared at the stain below. I'd come back to the city to sign our furniture over to an auctioneer, so the apartment could be rented. "We could chop up his bed into splinters and sell them as relics," Varya said as I was leaving on my errand, and I gave her a look. For all I knew, she might have been serious, but I, not Varya, was the one responsible for settling my father's estate, what little there was of it.

How, after cyanide had failed, and bullets as well, after someone had broken his poor head with a brick or a cudgel, had Father's assassins at last succeeded in killing him? They dropped him from where I was standing, perhaps. Dropped him over the guardrail and watched as the force of his body's impact shattered the river's frozen surface, gravity, which holds planets and moons and even the golden sun in its thrall, no longer innocent but an accessory to murder. Or they brought axes. They walked onto the river, bold as brass, dragging Father behind them, his hands and feet bound. Was he conscious? Did he have to watch his murderers hack at the ice to open a door to his drowning? The ringleader was a man he'd mistaken for a friend. Invited to his home, Father had come willingly and drunk the poison he was served.

The Petrovsky Bridge was bewitched, people began to say, and they avoided its narrow pedestrian walkway whenever possible, certainly at night, when traffic subsided and moans rose up from under its span. There must be a natural explanation for water making such noises as it flows beneath a frozen surface, but no one was interested in natural explanations, not that winter. And there were more curious phenomena, impossible to account for. In the attempt to wash the blood away, to remove the unwanted reminder of my dead father's continued hold over his disciples, cauldron after cauldron of boiling water had been poured over the frozen blood. Tinder was collected, saturated in gasoline, and set to burn on the ice. But the stain refused to fade. As if to accuse the assassins, it darkened and spread, and even reasonable people grew to fear a place where a holy man had been martyred.

Looking down from the bridge, I could see where blood had pooled and feet had tramped and bodies been dragged through the congealing red slick of it, each boot print and smear recorded on the river's surface. The hole in the ice never froze back over that winter. Too many people visited the spot, refilled their bottles from its bottomless font, rinsed their crucifixes, and kneeled to pray. The same pilgrims, some of them, left crosses and candles. The wind blew, it whistled and shrieked, but it knew to leave the crosses standing, the candles' flames burning, and the soup in its bowl. Someone had remembered Father's favorite meal and brought him a deep dish of thick cod soup, which steamed day and night through one blizzard after another, surrounded by a ring of water where it had melted the ice. Others brought boots, a gift traditionally presented to an itinerant healer, and there was a cask of Madeira, bottles of kvass, too many ikons to count, a heaped tangle of prayer cords, and silk stoles, such as priests wear, in gold, purple, red, in every color. Prayers, quite a lot of these, copied onto paper and, if the petitioner lacked the requisite faith, held down with rocks. But the wind let them be, rocks or no rocks. Crutches and canes and unraveled bandages, all testifying that, dead as he was, Father Grigory continued to heal those who came to him. No thief was fool enough to take any of the gifts his petitioners left, not even something as valuable as a pair of stout boots.

If only Father had remained that humble man, walking from one town to the next, he might have avoided so early a death. Forty-seven. With a constitution like his he should have lived to be a hundred.

A Red Ribbon

The journey by train from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoe Selo, sixteen miles to the south, wasn't nearly long enough for me to gather my wits. It was, at least, a slow sixteen miles, as the track had to be cleared of snow every day, several times a day, in midwinter. I told myself, on boarding, that I would use the time to write my mother a letter saying what I could not, for reasons of economy, fit in a telegram. But I never even opened my satchel to find pen and paper. Once I'd settled myself in one of the imperial train's velvet-upholstered seats, I sank immediately into a haze that left me balanced like a napping cat between unconsciousness and the hair-trigger alertness that allows it to spring out of sleep and onto a mouse. Scenery unfurled, splendid and sparkling, the last of the slanting midwinter sunlight flaring off mirrors it found in the ice. Varya, two years younger than I, slept sideways in her red velvet seat, her legs tucked under her and her hands caught between her cheek and the back of her seat in an attitude of prayer. Unbound, her dark hair fell around her shoulders like a cloak. Twice the train slowed, stopped, and, after whatever obstruction had blocked our way was cleared from the tracks, started up again.

It was dusk when we reached Tsarskoe Selo. A detail of cavalry officers greeted us at the station, and once Varya and I had disembarked, holding tight to our bags in defiance of a footman's attempt to carry them, the mounted police escorted us to a carriage bearing the gold imperial crest. Flanked on either side by a moving wall of horses and men, for a moment I felt my sister and I had been arrested rather than adopted, and I hesitated before climbing into the conveyance.

"What is it?" Varya whispered as she sat next to me.

"Nothing," I said. "It isn't anything." As the carriage started rolling, we each slid to one side of the seat, looking out the window at what we'd last seen in late summer, when it was lushly green rather than white. The sun had set, the moon was rising. The carriage lamps turned everything they touched pale yellow, and behind every yellow thing lay its purple shadow. As we approached the Alexander Palace, I saw that only the imperial family's private wing was illuminated-lit from top to bottom. From a distance it looked like a lantern left standing in the snow. But then it grew suddenly big, and we stepped out of the carriage and into a world we'd visited infrequently, and never without our father. Apart from Father we had no connection to the tsar and his family.

The trip from the foyer to the suite of bedrooms (to which a butler, housekeeper, and finally a chambermaid delivered us) involved a surprising number of double doors. Each set opened silently before us, obedient to its pair of liveried, white-gloved porters, and swung silently shut. With every threshold I crossed, with every set of doors that closed behind me, I felt that much more sleepy, as if walking ever deeper into a hypnotizing spell. By the time a lady-in-waiting had emptied our suitcases and hung up our clothes-I could not convince her, as I had the footman, that we could do for ourselves-I was on my back on my bed, asleep on the counterpane, my shoes still on my feet and my hands folded like a dead girl's over my heart.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Enchantments opens in 1917 St. Petersburg, with the body of “Mad Monk” Grigory Rasputin being pulled from the Neva River—a factually accurate event. But Harrison writes from the perspective of Rasputin’s daughter, Masha, weaving fact and fiction together throughout the novel. Discuss the ways in which Harrison plays with fact and fiction in Enchantments, and to what effect.
 
2. During one of their first meetings, Masha and Alyosha talk about how his mother worries endlessly about his health. Alyosha tells Masha that Tsarina Alexandra believes in “the grace of God” while he believes in history. (page 24) How does the tsarina’s faith in God influence her? How does Alyosha’s faith in history influence him?
 
3. Masha and Alyosha create a fantasy world while under house arrest at Tsarskoe Selo. Of all the stories they tell each other and the histories they share, what passages stand out to you? Why?
 
4. Masha and Varya have a complicated relationship in Enchantments. Varya tells little white lies to protect herself, while Masha believes in the power of truth.  Masha tells Varya, “There are ways other than lying to protect oneself,” and Varya says, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. And neither do you.” (page 34) Discuss how truth and lies play into the novel. Does Masha have a point? Does Varya?
 
5. Harrison’s novel emphasizes the power of storytelling—through Rasputin and Masha’s relationship before his death, Masha and Alyosha’s interactions, and Alyosha’s later relations with Katya. Why do you think sharing stories—both real and imagined—hold so much power?
 
6. Masha struggles with Alyosha’s accident throughout the novel, wondering if he meant to hurt himself to distract his parents—and others at Tsarskoe Selo—from their plight. Alyosha tells Masha he didn’t mean to hurt himself, but she has trouble believing him. What do you think really happened?
 
7. As Masha and Alyosha tell their own versions of their family histories, they imagine how things might have turned out differently had their ancestors made different choices—if they had married other people, or made alternate political decisions, etc. How does the concept of fate unfold in the novel? What about the power of choice?
 
8. The devil and his entourage of demons, the Virgin, the Holy Spirit, a host of saints, and 630 Jesuses all appear in Enchantments.  Discuss these religious apparitions and what they mean to and for the characters.
 
9. Alyosha and Masha are drawn to each other despite Alyosha’s condition, their age difference, and their unique predicament.  Yet when they first kiss, Masha is so worried about hurting Alyosha that she can’t allow herself to enter the moment. Alyosha says, “It’s the only thing that does matter, whether or not you liked it.” Masha says, “There are other things to think about.” (page 155) What does Masha mean? How does her perspective affect their relationship?
 
10. According to the novel (and some historical reports), Rasputin’s death was widely predicted. Of her father and his unfortunate death, Masha reflects: “Once he’d met a man, he couldn’t imagine that man as a murderer, much less his murderer.” (page 201) Discuss this quote—in the context of both Rasputin’s death and more generally in the novel.  
 
11. Masha and Alyosha’s relationship is cut short when she and her sister are abruptly set free from Tsarskoe Selo. Masha’s life takes many interesting turns after she leaves Alyosha: she gets married and is then widowed, moves from Paris to Vienna to America, joins the circus and is herself gravely injured. Discuss Masha’s life after the Romanovs. What did you find most surprising? Engaging?
 
12. Masha is afraid her father’s legacy will prevent her from getting her working papers in Paris, but in fact the Rasputin name helps her. She reflects: “The sole thing of value I possessed was my father’s history [and] his name.” (page 272) Is this true? If so, in what ways?
 
13. At the end of the novel, Masha dreams she is with the Romanov girls again. They are grown women, very much alive, and they want to show her a Faberge egg she has seen before.  “But I know what’s inside,” Masha says. “I don’t need to see it again.”  The girls all laugh and Tatiana says, “Of course you don’t know what’s inside! You can’t know. No one can. It’s never the same twice.” (pages 309–10) Discuss the meaning of this conversation in the context of the novel.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Enchantments is an excellent book. From the perspective of Rasputin's daughter, one gets an excellent glimpse of the last days of the last Russian Czar, Nicholas and his family. The writer says true to history while coloring the characters as interesting, engaging and true to life.
    If you have any interest in the back drop to Russian communism, I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    Unlike any other book I've read

    I loved this book- recounting the final days of the Romanov Empire, beautifully written like a fairy tale for adults. The story is told by the surviving daughter of Rasputin, and explores her romantic relationship with the tsarevich, Alexander. It is both historic and magical, packed with wonderful details of this amazing time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2012

    I wanted to like it

    I have been looking forward to the release of this book for a while. I hate to say it, but I could not even finish it (made it to about page 160). I finish everything, for the record. I found this book very hard to follow. The conversation between Masha and Alyosha was boring,and their relationship odd. Some of the history is accurate, but the main story line with Masha is not. I found myself fact checking to see if some of the stories told had any truth. I felt the book was all over the place. I gave it one star, because it inspired me to research more about the enigmatic life of Rasputin.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    Bedroom

    Wooh!~Ree

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  • Posted May 10, 2013

    Made Me Drowsy

    I gave this book the ol' college try. I suppose it's just one of those that is not for me. It made me really drowsy when I would read it. I see no point to the story at page 70-something. Bummer.

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  • Posted March 30, 2013

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Each story that

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings
    Each story that Masha told Alyosha built the history of their parents and their country and then the end happened where they told of the fall of Alyosha's father and family.  I am so thankful that the author added Alyosha's journal to complete the story, so the reader wasn't left wondering about the details that occurred once Masha and Alyosha were separated.  I definitely wondered throughout the book what I could note was historically accurate and what was fiction - I love when a book keeps me guessing.  

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    OK for a quick read

    Not quite what I expected.....but well written. I was looking for more history of that period in time. Interesting to read about Raspution's daughters and their relationship with the Tsar and his family after their father's death.

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  • Posted April 24, 2012

    Quite possibly the worst book I have read.

    I was not at all impressed with this book. I know that people rave about Enchantments, but honestly, it creeped me out. The book started out ok. Alyosha and Masha forming a friendship, but it went downhill quickly after that.

    Masha gives quite detailed renditions of her father, Rasputin’s, sex life multiple times throughout the book. Very creepy. Why would a daughter be privileged to this kind of knowledge? All I know was that if the point of this book was to make me think even worse about Rasputin, then it served it’s purpose.

    Then there was the whole part about Masha and Alyosha and his trying to have sex with her, actually frequently pushing himself on her when they were both super young! Creepy. Oh and did I mention that when he was separated from Masha he just turned to a girl who was super slutty and a bit older than him but who wanted the opportunity to have sex with the “future tsar.” He then had sex (frequently) with her and described it in very vibrant details. Eww gross.

    Next you have the end of the story where Masha describes multiple times, in detail about how her husband, who her father wanted her to marry, frequently rapes her. Just peachy.

    I really have nothing positive to say about this story, I wasted my time reading it. I wish I had never done so. It gave me nightmares for several days anytime I even thought about how disturbing it was.

    This book is NOT appropriate for kids under 18. This is 100% an adult book, even though the characters are kids.

    I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist parents and teachers in recommending appropriate books for your kids to read.

    Please read more of my reviews on my blog: sarahereads(dot)wordpress(dot)com

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2012

    Becca

    Ash..... who do u like?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Beatiful love stories

    One main story line told through multiple timelines nd charracters-I wanted it to go on, but what else is there to tell? Imaginitively told.

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    Posted February 26, 2013

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    Posted May 30, 2014

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