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Blood Red Snow White: A Novel by Marcus…

Blood Red Snow White: A Novel (original 2007; edition 2017)

by Marcus Sedgwick (Author)

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3501558,735 (3.74)27
"A novel based on the life of children's book author Arthur Ransome, who left his home, his wife, and daughter and fell in love with Russia and a Russian woman and was suspected, by both sides, of being a spy"--
Title:Blood Red Snow White: A Novel
Authors:Marcus Sedgwick (Author)
Info:Square Fish (2017), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick (2007)


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» See also 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Don't read this book; it is really bad.

It's a stylistic disaster; it is divided into three parts, the first of which is a confused mish-mash of inter-related "fairy-tales". It mixes up Russian history with ideas from Arthur Ransome's book about - Russian fairy-tales! This, I think, is supposed to be clever, because the book is a fictionalised tale of Arthur Ransome's time living in Russia, before, during and after the revolution that brought Lenin to power. In fact it's just an incoherent mess. The second part is a straight-forward third-person narrative, describing Ransome's first stay in Russia. It's a vast improvement on the first part, but nothing special. The third part switches to the first-person (!) to cover Ransome's second visit to Russia. It's completely jarring, as if the switch from "fairy-tale" to 3rd person wasn't enough of that sort of thing - at least the former transition was an improvement - this is a deterioration.

The conceit is that Ransome, well-known children's author, was a spy; this is based on documentary evidence declassified shortly before publication of the book. Some of this is reproduced in an appendix and is by far the best part of the book. Was Ransome a Bolshevik agent? Some people in Britain's Intelligence community thought so. Others were convinced of his trustworthiness - and Ransome had an official designation as a British agent. Also, MI5 and MI6 are pretty famous, but have you heard of (the now defunct) MI1c?

Here's the second reason why the book is really bad: the above conceit, Ransome's love-affair with Trotsky's secretary, Russian winter, revolution, civil war, WW1 and Sedgwick makes the book somehow drab and undramatic! How is that even possible!?

The thing that gets me down about all this is that Sedgwick can write really well - The Book of Dead Days and Kiss of Death are powerfully atmospheric and compelling. The Raven Mysteries are tremendous fun and GothicK with a capital K (and G)(but you can see that). I can strongly recommend those books. But really, don't read this one.

Sidenote: Sedgwick thinks Napoleon's defeat in the winter of 1812 was merely an accident of the weather: clueless! ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
disappointing - I'd skip this and read the non-fiction biography of Ransome "The Last Englishman" instead. The fairytale-style writing style in the first section was irritating and fictionalising the events didn't add much to them, in my opinion. ( )
  tronella | Jun 22, 2019 |
Absolutely riveting quasi nonfictional account of journalist Arthur Ransome's experiences during the Russian Revolution. Sedgwick is a truly exceptional author and in his author's note he describes Blood Red, Snow White as "a work of fiction, but it is as closely based on the real events surrounding Ransome's time in revolutionary Russia as I could make it." The real and the fictional blend seamlessly and the story is effortless and captivating. ( )
  scatlett | Mar 6, 2018 |
As I make it a point to get my hands on all things Russian in YA, I quickly requested this book, but what I ended up reading left me with generally mixed opinions.
This book is historical fiction, but it feels it in a way that almost seems like occasionally reading a narrative textbook. There was a blandless, lack of depth to the characters and emotions in the book that just left me feeling apathetic about it. Now, Sedgwick is an admittedly hit or miss author for me. I've loved some of his books (Midwinterblood) and others I've detested others (The Ghosts of Heaven), so now I go into all of his books aware that it could easily go either way.
This one landed squarely in the middle. I've come to expect (or at least hope for) a certain kind of magic when reading Russian YAs--yes, even the Soviet ones--and that magic was lacking here. It just.... it was dull. I don't really know any better way to put it than that. While it definitely left me interested in the man who was its topic, Arthur Ransome, I was not left with any particularly warm thoughts about this book. It was overwhelmingly just ok.

I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  eaduncan | Sep 14, 2017 |
The story of British children's author Arthur Ransome, and his involvement in the Bolshevik revolution in russia while working as a reporter during WWI. ( )
  lilibrarian | Dec 19, 2016 |
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'Russian fairyland is quite different. Under my windows the wavelets of the Volkhov are beating quietly in the dusk. A gold light burns on a timber raft floating down the river. Beyond the river in the blue midsummer twilight are the broad Russian plain and the distant forest. Somewhere in the great forest of trees – a forest so big that the forests of England are little woods beside it – is the hut where old Peter sits at night and tells these stories to his grandchildren.'

From Old Peter's Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome
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"A novel based on the life of children's book author Arthur Ransome, who left his home, his wife, and daughter and fell in love with Russia and a Russian woman and was suspected, by both sides, of being a spy"--

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Set at the time of the Russian Revolution, the end of a centuries old dynasty, the rise of the Bolsheviks sent shockwaves around the world. This is the story of one man who was there. It's real history - about the riches and excesses, the glory of the Russian nobility, Nicholas and Alexandra, their haemophiliac son, Alexei, notorious Rasputin, Lenin and Trotsky who ruled from palaces where the Czars had once danced till dawn. The man was real too, his name was Arthur Ransome. He was a writer, accused of being a spy, perhaps even a double agent, and he left his wife and beloved daughter and fell in love with Russia and a Russian woman, Evgenia.
Fictionalising history and blending it with real life, part i is told as a fairy tale. Wise and foolish kings, princesses, enchantresses (characters more suited to fairy tale than reality), wishes and magic, Russia with its vast cold plains and mighty cities, its riches and poverty, all play a part in the downfall of the Czars and rise of the new order. Part ii is about betrayal - Ransome the spy, bleak and threatening. Part iii is a love story, a fairy tale, ending - of Ransome's love for his daughter, Tabitha, and for Evgenia.
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