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Mirrored World the by Debra Dean
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Mirrored World the (edition 2012)

by Debra Dean

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1392386,313 (3.47)13
Member:wagner.sarah35
Title:Mirrored World the
Authors:Debra Dean
Info:Harper Collins USA (2012), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:historical fiction, Russia, 18th Century, Catherine the Great, St. Petersburg, Saint Xenia, 2012

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The Mirrored World by Debra Dean

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this book more for the historical aspect than any other element.  This book tells the story of St. Xenia of Russia through the eyes of her cousin, who loves her dearly.  The story of their relationship and how Xenia's descent into madness affects her was well-written even if it was a tad two-dimensional at times.  What I really enjoyed was the depiction of life in St. Petersburg during the life of Empress Elizabeth and the rise of Catherine the Great.  This world in Russia, with all of its political turmoil, was extremely fascinating and made the book worth reading.   This book was a goodreads giveaway. ( )
  jguidry | May 31, 2016 |
Set in 18th century Russia, this beautiful novel tells of the life of St. Xenia of Petersburg, a beloved figure in Russian Orthodoxy, a "holy fool" ["yurodevi" or "Fool for Christ"], in present-day Russia a patroness of her city. Xenia's cousin, Dasha, narrates: from their girlhood, Xenia's marriage and tragic death of her husband, and then her prophetic gifts, miracles, and following literally Christ's command: "Go, sell all thou hast, and follow me". She lived among and helped the poverty-stricken.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foolishness_for_Christ#Holy_fool

For a secular work and not a usual hagiography, this was done very well. Dasha was a one-dimensional character until her marriage to the castrato, Gaspari, and her carrying on Xenia's work. I felt the author portrayed St. Xenia very well, as well as Gaspari. Many of St. Xenia's actions or prophecies I have read elsewhere and the author included them nicely into her novel. The novel explores grief, love, devotion and loyalty.

Highly recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Apr 17, 2016 |
Such a disappointment as I loved The Madonnas of Leningrad. I couldn't connect with any of the characters, there was zero character development and I could not get any sense of the time and place. Given that this was 18th century Russia this is a real shame. This is, again, a very short novel, but this time around it doesn't work. More time, and pages, would be needed to set the scene and bring the period to live. That said, curiously there is still a lot I did like. The writing was, once again, beautiful and touching. Some bits were truly memorable, I just wished they had been part of a more structured, more elaborate and longer story. This is the imagined life of Xenia of St. Petersburg, a holy fool and revered figure in Russian culture. I would have liked to get to know her better. ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
I don't think I've read anything else set in eighteenth-century Russia. So, in spite of that, or possibly because of that, I was enormously impressed by how Ms Dean brought this world to life. I found her writing elegant but accessible and the storyline compelling. The events which took place found just the right balance of shock and sadness to compel me to keep reading. That said, I was surprised by the amount of the plot revealed in the blurb and I would have preferred more finality in the ending. So, maybe 4.5 stars ~ but still a memorable novel. ( )
  paulinewiles | Jan 26, 2015 |
This book was inspired by the life of Xenia, patron saint of St. Petersburg, but is told from the perspective of her (imaginary, I think) cousin. We watch as Xenia falls madly in love and her complete devastation following her husbands death. As Xenia finds solace in giving her belongings for the poor and slowly transforms into a pauper revered as a “holy fool”, her cousin must decide whether Xenia needs saving from herself or just support in her choices. Her cousins life is also deeply impacted by Xenia’s transformation which helps her find love in the most unlikely of places.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the gorgeous and evocative imagery. Early on, the narrator remembers a fire that occurred when she was very young and the author did an amazing job conveying the feel of the scene with just a few of the narrator’s impressions. Every sentence was well crafted, every word carefully chosen to form a certain image. This was true throughout the book. Because the author did such a wonderful job conveying what it felt like to be in a particular scene, I felt as though I was present with the main character and empathized deeply with her feelings.

I’ll definitely want to find a non-fiction book about this era as well, because the historical details were fascinating. Overlapping the beginning of Catherine the Great’s rule of Russia, it seems being part of the court could be very dangerous as harsh punishments were visited on those who displeased the empress. My one complaint with this book is that despite the sometimes dangerous situations, I never felt concerned about our protagonist. And for all that the events sound exciting when you describe them, I found the plot somewhat bland and un-engaging because of my lack of worry about what was going to happen next. However, I can’t put my finger on any one thing that may have made me feel uninvolved with the plot, so I think other people might enjoy the book even more than I did.

This review first published on Doing Dewey. ( )
  DoingDewey | Jun 29, 2014 |
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Epigraph
For if we genuinely love Him...we awaken as the Beloved in every last part of our body. -- Saint Symeon the Theologian
Dedication
For my mother, Beverly A. Taylor
First words
Yes, this was her home many years ago, when she was still Xenia.
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Book description
Born to a Russian family of lower nobility, Xenia, an eccentric dreamer who cares little for social conventions, falls in love with Andrei, a charismatic soldier and singer in the Empress's Imperial choir. Though husband and wife adore each other, their happiness is overshadowed by the absurd demands of life at the royal court and by Xenia's growing obsession with having a child--a desperate need that is at last fulfilled with the birth of her daughter. But then a tragic vision comes true, and a shattered Xenia descends into grief, undergoing a profound transformation that alters the course of her life. Turning away from family and friends, she begins giving all her money and possessions to the poor. Then, one day, she mysteriously vanishes.

Years later, dressed in the tatters of her husband's military uniform and answering only to his name, Xenia is discovered tending the paupers of St. Petersburg's slums. Revered as a soothsayer and a blessed healer to the downtrodden, she is feared by the royal court and its new Empress, Catherine, who perceives her deeds as a rebuke to their lavish excesses. In this evocative and elegantly written tale, Dean reimagines the intriguing life of Xenia of St. Petersburg, a patron saint of her city and one of Russia's most mysterious and beloved holy figures. This is an exploration of the blessings of loyal friendship, the limits of reason, and the true costs of loving deeply.
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Born to a Russian family of lower nobility, Xenia, an eccentric dreamer who cares little for social conventions, falls in love with Andrei, a charismatic soldier and singer in the Empress's Imperial choir. Though husband and wife adore each other, their happiness is overshadowed by the absurd demands of life at the royal court and by Xenia's growing obsession with having a child -- a desperate need that is at last fulfilled with the birth of her daughter. But then a tragic vision comes true, and a shattered Xenia descends into grief, undergoing a profound transformation that alters the course of her life. Turning away from family and friends, she begins giving all her money and possessions to the poor. Then, one day, she mysteriously vanishes. Years later, dressed in the tatters of her husband's military uniform and answering only to his name, Xenia is discovered tending the paupers of St. Petersburg's slums. Revered as a soothsayer and a blessed healer to the downtrodden, she is feared by the royal court and its new Empress, Catherine, who perceives her deeds as a rebuke to their lavish excesses. In this evocative and elegantly written tale, Dean reimagines the intriguing life of Xenia of St. Petersburg, a patron saint of her city and one of Russia's most mysterious and beloved holy figures. This is an exploration of the blessings of loyal friendship, the limits of reason, and the true costs of loving deeply.… (more)

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