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Selwa RooseveltIf truth is indeed stranger than fiction, then there can be no better example of that maxim than The Pearl. This fascinating, well-researched account by Douglas Smith is more than a love story about the singing serf who became the greatest diva in Russia and married her master—Russia's wealthiest noble, Count Nicholas Sheremetev. It's also a vivid account of the privileged lives and baroque splendor of the Russian aristocracy in the 18th century—the golden age of the Russian nobility—and the complex interaction between the wealthy few and their countless serfs, who were the basis of that wealth.
—The Washington Post