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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Espionage
Based around the Russian Revolution this centres around a well-known author whom I was amazed to learn was actually involved in the events that occurred - namely Arthur Ransome. Set before he was famous for his novel Swallows and Amazons this book tells of his amazing life and the part he played in this period of history. Ransome was already a writer when he realised he...
Published on 11 Sept. 2007 by kehs

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting curio for a Russian history buff
My views with regards to this novel are incredibly mixed.

All three stories - especially A Russian Fairy Tale - were beautifully written and rich in symbolism. The image of the sleeping bear for the attitude of the proletariat and reoccurring contrast between red and white were both incredibly striking and memorable.

It was also nice to read a story...
Published 12 months ago by Kim Dyer


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Espionage, 11 Sept. 2007
By 
kehs (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Hardcover)
Based around the Russian Revolution this centres around a well-known author whom I was amazed to learn was actually involved in the events that occurred - namely Arthur Ransome. Set before he was famous for his novel Swallows and Amazons this book tells of his amazing life and the part he played in this period of history. Ransome was already a writer when he realised he no longer loved his wife, so decided to leave her and his child (who he adored). He travelled to Russia, met a woman called Evgenia and fell in love with her. Then he became involved in espionage and was thought to be a spy or double agent. He had some incredible adventures and was involved in many hair- raising events. I am astounded at learning of Ransome's escapades and found this book absolutely riveting. For me the first part was the best, as it was told in my favourite style of fairytales, but the whole book truly gels together.

Sedgwick tells this historical love story in a fairytale style, which at times read like a memoir of Ransome's life. He has mixed gothic fairy tales, history, a biography, espionage and romance in a brilliantly seamless manner, which has blended together to make a spellbinding love story. With Blood Red Snow White Sedgwick has written an amazing multi-faceted novel that is sure to be a best seller.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and un-put-downable faction novel, 21 Aug. 2007
By 
Dr. M. G. Farringdon (Swansea, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Hardcover)
A gripping novel based on Arthur Ransome's eyewitness accounts of the early days of the Russian Revolution and his meetings with its leading figures, Trotsky and Lenin. Marcus Sedgwick spins a faction fairy tale from all this including Robert Bruce Lockhart's spying and the love story of Arthur Ransome and Trotsky's secretary. Being well versed in Arthur Ransome's accounts and those of other participants in these events I was delighted to find that its pace barely let me put it down until finished. An excellent read of a fascinating story. Arthur Ransome may be considered both courageous and foolhardy, but who wouldn't be for the Love of one's life? For those who would read more of this episode in Ransome's life and see photos of many of the places and buildings mentioned I must recommend Ted Alexander's 'Ransome in Russia' (also available on Amazon, of course!).
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative Historical Fairy Tale Style Novel, 23 Aug. 2007
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This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Hardcover)
Great story/fairly tale based on the Russian Revolution and Arthur Ransomes life in Russia.
However, for a book apparently aimed at younger readers (it is published by Orison Childrens books and written in slightly less sophisticated language than an adult oriented book),it includes occasional unexpectedly adult themes and language. That aside it is a great, enjoyable historical read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spare clean language, beautiful layered tale, 14 July 2008
By 
This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Paperback)
I was lucky enough to find this book in a charity shop, never having heard of the author before, and will eagerly pursue other writings by him

This is a beautifully written novel, combining various motifs - myth and fairy story, the search for true love, the Russian Revolution, the childrens' writer Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons) and espionage. As each and every one of these motifs are appealing or fascinating to me, I didn't see how this book could fail me. And it didn't!

The book is marketed at I guess an early teens reader with an interest in a few of the above motifs, But his writing is too good to let his teen audience have him all to themselves; like Ransome himself, and more modern 'childrens' writers' like Alan Garner, Philip Pullman etc there's great pleasure for us 'well grown up readers too'. In fact I sometimes prefer really good 'childrens' writers' - some 'good' adult writers can be too self-consciously turning a fine phrase, or trying to impress their peers; intelligent writing for children is often without artificial 'cleverness'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Novel of a true story of adventure and romance in revolutionary Russia, 18 Sept. 2009
By 
Annabel Gaskell "gaskella2" (Nr Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Hardcover)
There has been renewed interest in the beloved children's author Arthur Ransome lately due to the publication of a new biography: The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome by Roland Chambers. What many people don't know is that years before he wrote the children's classics, including Swallows and Amazons, for which he is so fondly remembered, he lived and worked in Russia at the time of the revolution.

Published in 2007, Marcus Sedgwick's wonderful novel also tackles Ransome's time in Russia. Sedgwick is one of those teen authors whose books are crossover adult reads too, and I can't recommend this one highly enough - it has revolution and politics, spies and intrigue, romance and family drama, all steeped in Russian fairy tales.

Stuck in a marriage where he didn't love his wife, Ransome ran away to Russia in 1913, although he regretted having to leave his daughter behind. There he taught himself the language and became a journalist on the Daily News at the start of the Great War. He also covered the 1917 revolutions, and was close to Lenin and Trotsky. There he met the real love of his life, Evgenia, who was Trotsky's personal secretary; they married eventually. He was somewhat sympathetic to the Bolshelvik cause, although remained loyal to his homeland, and this led to MI6 using him through their agent Bruce Lockhart (whose Memoirs of a British Agent - Being an account of the author's early life in many lands and of his official mission to Moscow in 1918 was a bestseller in the 1930s); MI5 also kept tabs on him for years. Ransome's occasional journeys to and from the UK were full of adventure and peril, especially the time the Estonians used him to deliver a secret armistice proposal to Litvinov in Moscow in 1919, where his good reputation with both sides was his life-saver.

It was at the start of his self-imposed exile that he wrote his book Old Peter's Russian Tales: these are full of magical talismans, poor peasant folk on quests, cunning animals, greedy men and wicked stepmothers, and Baba Yaga of course. These moral tales are often dark and many don't have happy endings, but really get into the Russian psyche.

Sedgwick's novelisation is no dry biography. He starts by using the fairy tales to tell the problems of the people, embodied by a great Russian bear spurred into action against the Tsar by two friends arguing in the forest - they are Lenin and Trotsky. This is superb scene-setting, and Ransome wanders into it and instantly falls in love with a woman stirring a pot on a stove in an office ...

'This is what you want,' she said, almost in a whisper.
She nodded at the pot, and Arthur found himself drawn towards her. He looked inside.
'Potatoes,' she murmured, as if it were the most beautiful word in the world. Her eyes lit up and Arthur realised how very hungry he was. He stood no more than a weak moment's decision away from her, and looked into her eyes.
This is what you want.
And that was how the young writer found love, just when he had stopped looking for it.

How can you not be reeled in by the utter romance in those words. Combined with all the derring do of the amateur spy, the author delivers a totally fabulous novel. Swallows and Amazons was his favourite childhood book, and when the National Archives released the files on Ransome, it was a story demanding to be told. Some of the fascinating telegrams from the archives are reproduced in the Appendix. Highly recommended indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 8 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Paperback)
Blood Red Snow White is based on truth about Russia. The main character is Arthur Ransome, the famous author, and his part in the revouloution.

I was fascinated to find out about Arthur Ransomes life as he is my favourite author. The most interesting parts were finding out that Arthur had a wife and daughter who he left one night, secretly, and went to Russia. He taught himself to read Russian, wrote a book,Old Peter's Russian Tales and became a newspaper war correspondent. It was FASINATING!!!

Sedgwick has written it beautifully. I would reccom,end to anyone.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting curio for a Russian history buff, 17 July 2014
This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Paperback)
My views with regards to this novel are incredibly mixed.

All three stories - especially A Russian Fairy Tale - were beautifully written and rich in symbolism. The image of the sleeping bear for the attitude of the proletariat and reoccurring contrast between red and white were both incredibly striking and memorable.

It was also nice to read a story that presented an unbiased view of Bolshevism as so many simply use communists as villains. This novel made the appeal of communism very clear, showing clearly the improvements that it made to the lives of the peasantry, while also contrasting this to the violence and death that it also brought. Blood Red, Snow White has no hidden agenda. It portrays both sides and leaves the reader to come to their own decisions about whether it is bad or not.

However, the novel also had a number of problems. Firstly, it was not really accessible to a reader with no knowledge of revolutionary Russia. Key players were name dropped and important events were given little introduction (the October Revolution was described in a sentence). There was also little development given to the cast and so they all came across as being rather flat and unsympathetic.

All in all, I felt that the novel was an interesting curio for someone with an interest in Russian history but I'm not sure how much appeal it would have for anyone else.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Curiously Appealing and Beautiful, 21 Jan. 2013
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Paperback)
I knew that Arthur Ransome had been in Russia at the time of the Revolution, and that he was considered, by some, to be a spy either for the Russians or the English, or both. Other than that I did not know much more. Sedgwick takes the bones of Ransome's story and makes it flesh, interweaving it with the style Ransome himself adopted in his retellings of Russian Fairytales. It is a beautiful book, slow and lyrical and thoughtful, while all the while echoing with a palpable air of menace. It is supposed to be for teenagers, but I am not sure how appealing it would be, given the pace of the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but then I am forty, and grew up immersed in Ransome's books, so he has a special place in my heart. If you are thinking of recommending this, or buying it for a child I would say it is definitely for teens and not younger children because there are times when the novel is quite graphic in its depiction of violence and it also deals with sexuality albeit in more muted tones. It is a book that once read, stays in your heart and mind, and you find yourself thinking about it weeks after you have finished it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is fantastic!, 11 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Hardcover)
This book was fantastic! It is the fictionalised story of Arthur Ransome (the author of Swallows and Amazons) 's time in Russia in the early 20th Century. He was there as a reporter when the Russian Revolution really started, from about 1914. He became friendly with the leaders of the revolution - and married Trotsky's secretary in the end - and this book describes how he managed to live there, and how he got out of Russia in the end, with the secretary. The writing is just excellent, you really feel like you're there, and the style is really good. I think this is a book for teenagers, but I didn't realise that when I bought it, and it was only when I looked it up on the internet that I realised it was. I think its similar in style to The Book Thief, which could be either a adult or children's book. Recommended for anyone who likes Russia, history, or just really good evocative writing! :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great gripping read, 28 April 2009
This review is from: Blood Red, Snow White (Paperback)
This is a very good book for a quick read.

I never usually stray into the world of children's fiction but I am fast becoming a big Marcus Sedgwick fan.

This is an interesting take on the life of Arthur Ransome during the time of the Russian revolution.

A long, long time ago I studied Russian history and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere which Sedgwick creates in this book.

There is lots of atmosphere, history and espionage.

A great book that made me feel very satisfied after reading.
Ticked all the boxes, in fact I will change my stars to 5 stars.

I was so impressed by this book that I have just ordered 'Old Peter's Russian tales' by Arthur Ransome which is referred to throughout this book.
Great stuff!
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Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick (Hardcover - 6 Aug. 2007)
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