The Mirrored World: A Novel

( 4 )

Overview

St. Petersburg, 1736. Dasha and Xenia are cousins and devoted friends growing up in the shadow of royal society. On the night they make their debut at court, Xenia falls madly in love with a charismatic singer in the empress's imperial choir. They marry and settle into a contented family life.

But on a snowy winter night, tragedy shatters their dreams, plunging Xenia into an abyss of grief. Pulling away from everyone, including her dear friend, she begins giving away her ...

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The Mirrored World

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Overview

St. Petersburg, 1736. Dasha and Xenia are cousins and devoted friends growing up in the shadow of royal society. On the night they make their debut at court, Xenia falls madly in love with a charismatic singer in the empress's imperial choir. They marry and settle into a contented family life.

But on a snowy winter night, tragedy shatters their dreams, plunging Xenia into an abyss of grief. Pulling away from everyone, including her dear friend, she begins giving away her possessions to the poor. Then one day she disappears...until eight years later, when Dasha hears rumors of a soothsayer and healer in St. Petersburg's slums, dressed in a ragged military uniform, who answers only to her husband's name.

Told in Dasha's compelling voice, The Mirrored World vividly captures a darkly glittering world of imperious empresses, ice palaces, holy fools, and Italian castrati—a world of unparalleled extravagance for the few and desperate squalor for the multitudes. What causes one privileged young woman to cross that divide, to give up all her possessions and become one of the homeless people whom she has served? Is it devotion or delusion? The novel illuminates the blessings of friendship, the limits of reason, and the costs of loving deeply.

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Editorial Reviews

Stewart O’Nan
“Love affairs, rivalries, intrigues, prophecy, cross-dressing, madness, sorrow, poverty—THE MIRRORED WORLD is a litany of both the homely and the miraculous. Intimate and richly appointed, Debra Dean’s Imperial St. Petersburg is as sumptuous and enchanted as the Winter Palace.”
Ann Hood
“THE MIRRORED WORLD explores the mysteries of love and grief and devotion. Against a vivid backdrop of eighteenth century St. Petersburg and Catherine the Great’s royal court, the woman who would become St. Xenia is brought fully to life. Is there a more imaginative, elegant storyteller than Debra Dean?”
Garth Stein
“With evocative, rich prose and deep emotional resonance, Debra Dean delivers a compelling and captivating story that touches the soul. Truly a wonderful read.”
Bookreporter.com
“Transporting readers to St. Petersburg during the reign of Catherine the Great, Dean brilliantly reconstructs and reimagines the life of St. Xenia, one of Russia’s most revered and mysterious holy figures, in a richly told and thought-provoking work of historical fiction.”
Booklist
“Dean’s novel grows more profound and affecting with every page.”
Seattle Times
“In her excellent second novel, THE MIRRORED WORLD, Debra Dean has composed a resonant and compelling tale. . . . Dean’s writing is superb; she uses imagery natural to the story and an earlier time.”
Miami Herald
“In Debra Dean’s skilled hands, history comes alive. . . . Though the world she creates is harsh and cold at times, it is the warmth at its center— the power of love — that stays with you in the end.”
Stewart O’Nan
“Love affairs, rivalries, intrigues, prophecy, cross-dressing, madness, sorrow, poverty—THE MIRRORED WORLD is a litany of both the homely and the miraculous. Intimate and richly appointed, Debra Dean’s Imperial St. Petersburg is as sumptuous and enchanted as the Winter Palace.”
Stewart O'Nan
“Love affairs, rivalries, intrigues, prophecy, cross-dressing, madness, sorrow, poverty—THE MIRRORED WORLD is a litany of both the homely and the miraculous. Intimate and richly appointed, Debra Dean's Imperial St. Petersburg is as sumptuous and enchanted as the Winter Palace.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061231469
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/16/2013
  • Series: P.S.
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 245
  • Sales rank: 469,641
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

A native of Seattle, Debra Dean worked as an actor in New York for nearly a decade before becoming a writer. She lives in Miami and teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 16, 2012

    Riveting but sad

    The Mirrored World imagines the world and life of St. Xenia, a historical figure known for serving the impoverished in St. Petersburg, Russia during the eighteenth century and endeavors to explain how she became the historical figure that she is known for today. The tale is told by Xenia's cousin Dasha and is enriched by historical details (and gossip) about the royal family and the quirky antics of the court during this time period.

    This is a sad interesting tale that I enjoyed quite a bit. It didn't have me tearing through the pages, but every time I opened this little book I found myself losing track of time as I became completely engrossed in the story. Dasha isn't the most interesting character but somehow the story is more interesting told from her point of view. The beauty of this book is the writing and how Ms. Dean manages to unveil a sad story in such an artistic manner. It's almost like a song, sad and poignant. My only complaint involves the description on the book cover. It tells the entire story. I like reading descriptions but this one goes too far.

    I'm not sure if it is for everyone, but if you enjoy historical fiction and great writing, give this one a try. Be prepared for a sad sad read though.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2013

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A book that is

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    A book that is narrated by Dasha, but centers around Xenia who in the middle of her life makes a drastic change and Dasha is there with a front row view.  Starting from the very beginning, this short book took a quick trip through Xenia and Dasha's entire lives from a very young age through tragedy to older age.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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