The Pearl: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in Catherine the Great's Russia

The Pearl: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in Catherine the Great's Russia

by Douglas Smith
     
 

ISBN-10: 0300158580

ISBN-13: 9780300158588

Pub. Date: 08/25/2009

Publisher: Yale University Press

Filled with a remarkable cast of characters and set against the backdrop of imperial Russia, this tale of forbidden romance could be the stuff of a great historical novel. But in fact The Pearl tells a true tale, reconstructed in part from archival documents that have lain untouched for centuries. Douglas Smith presents the most complete and accurate account

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Overview

Filled with a remarkable cast of characters and set against the backdrop of imperial Russia, this tale of forbidden romance could be the stuff of a great historical novel. But in fact The Pearl tells a true tale, reconstructed in part from archival documents that have lain untouched for centuries. Douglas Smith presents the most complete and accurate account ever written of the illicit love between Count Nicholas Sheremetev (1751-1809), Russia’s richest aristocrat, and Praskovia Kovalyova (1768-1803), his serf and the greatest opera diva of her time.

Blessed with a beautiful voice, Praskovia began her training in Nicholas’s operatic company as a young girl. Like all the members of Nicholas’s troupe, Praskovia was one of his own serfs. But unlike the others, she utterly captured her master’s heart. The book reconstructs Praskovia’s stage career as “The Pearl” and the heartbreaking details of her romance with Nicholas—years of torment before their secret marriage, the outrage of the aristocracy when news of the marriage emerged, Praskovia’s death only days after delivering a son, and the unyielding despair that followed Nicholas to the end of his life. Written with grace and style, The Pearl sheds light on the world of the Russian aristocracy, music history, and Russian attitudes toward serfdom. But above all, the book tells a haunting story of love against all odds.  

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300158588
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
08/25/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
510,294
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Note on Style

Family Trees

I Kuskovo

1 An Aristocratic Boyhood 13

2 The Blacksmith's Daughter 21

3 Grand Tour 29

4 The Big House 37

5 First Meeting 42

6 Praskovia's Debut 48

7 Early Success 53

8 Serf Diva, Serf Mistress 61

9 Entertaining Catherine 75

10 The Sheremetevs and Their Serfs 85

11 The Old Count's Death 91

Interlude: Serf Theater 97

II Ostankino

12 "I intend to build ..." 113

13 Farewell to Kuskovo 121

14 Ostankino's Premier 130

15 Training the Troupe 138

16 Life in the Troupe 146

17 To St. Petersburg 154

18 Tsar Paul 160

Interlude: Serf Actress Stones 171

III The Fountain House

19 Freedom 181

20 The Curtain Falls 188

21 The Specter of Death 195

22 Coronation 200

23 Wedding 206

24 Newlyweds 217

25 Dmitry's Birth 225

26 Secrets Revealed 232

27 Death 239

28 Scandal 247

29 Saint Praskovia 252

30 Putrid Bones 261

31 Fatherly Advice 266

32 Separate Fates 271

Coda 281

Notes 285

Bibliography 301

Index 321

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