Top positive review
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Passion and Intrigue in Tsarist Russia
on 6 July 2010
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can recommend it to anyone who loves a gripping tale of suspense in an authentic historical setting. Andrew Williams has moved from World War II, the focus of his earlier writings, to late 19th century Russia and the events around the assassination of Alexander II in 1881, a period with which many English readers are less familiar than they are with 1917. It tells of the romantic involvement of Frederick Hadfield, a Doctor from a respected Anglo-Russian family, with Anna Kovalenko, a young teacher who is a member of The People's Will, a small but influential band of revolutionaries.
It is a story of conflicting passion and principle, as Frederick's love leads him inexorably, if unwillingly, into association with terrorism. Mixing fiction skilfully with accurate treatment of historical facts and people, Andrew Williams also gives a fascinating insight into the merciless but ultimately inefficient corrupt and informer-led government in St Petersburg at a time of autocratic but creaking imperialism, and into the motivation and activities of early resistance leaders. He also throws light on the situation and influence of the small but powerful Anglo-Russian community.
Once you have assimilated the sheer number of characters met in the early chapters, and despite the plethora of complicated Russian names, this novel deserves the accolade of all the best thrillers -it is just hard to put it down!