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.
Kathryn Harrison pens a fictionalized version of the events that followed the death of Rasputin, the "Mad Monk" of Russia, on December 29, 1916. The narrative centers on Masha, his 18-year-old daughter, who is asked by the Romanovs to watch over the ailing Tsarevitch Alyosha in her father's stead. When the Tsar is forced by the Bolshevik Revolution to abdicate, and the family is placed under arrest, Masha and Alyosha embark on an unlikely romance in the midst of captivity.
- Fiction + Literature Themes, Fiction + Literature Genres
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- March 6, 2012
- March 6, 2012
- Kathryn Harrison