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Constantinople: Escaping the Russian Revolution Paperback – 5 Jan 2014

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PHENOMENAL NOVELLA ! 12 Aug. 2012
By AC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Once again, Dirk Hessian doesn't disappoint. He offers us here another very creative and dramatic novel that completely strays from the beaten track, recounting the tragic events somewhat fallen into oblivion. It is the end of an era...

This story is set against the backdrop of the "White Russians" exodus, who, forced to flee communist atrocities, were driven away from their home and their country by the Bolshevik revolution. It is a very sad and tragic episode that has been neglected and forgotten by the official history. This novel gives these people a new voice.

The book describes the arduous journey of a very young cadet thrown unwillingly into the middle of this massive human tragedy, a path full of pitfalls and dangers of all kinds. The extent of historical detail, high drama and emotions that you can find on these pages is simply phenomenal! The impressive amount of research enables the author to create a striking atmosphere of authenticity and realism. He effortlessly plunges us into this violent drama and makes us feel as if we were there.

Young Count Pyotr Romanov's character is like a blank canvas. In St.Petersburg, he has been pampered all his young life, he never had to lift a finger to do anything and he was never important, being only a third son. All he has ever done was to live and let live. He is sent to Kazan Military Academy for his own protection from the Bolshevik menace. He doesn't really know who he is and he doesn't know what he wants. It's quite obvious from the start that he's absolutely not cut out to be in the military. Plus, he's too handsome for his own good! At least, he knows he likes men...

It was very interesting and exciting to observe Pyotr react, progress and evolve while faced with the huge turmoil of the outside world that drastically affects his life and his decisions. Despite everything he manages to get through all the difficulties alive. He's forced to leave everything behind - everything he ever had, his name, his title and his pride, but in a way it doesn't bother him that much.

One day he was a young cadet in Kazan, but after fleeing from Sevastopol and arriving in Turkey he has become a survivor who has already done what he had to do to stay alive. It was the first real decision he had to make and it would change his life forever. He crossed the line and prostituted himself to survive, for food, but this is only the beginning...

There's so much going on and things are going so fast that you barely have time to breathe and from one page to another you really never know what to expect, which is perfect for me.

There's a breathtaking, outstanding description of a horribly realistic scene of a crowd during the evacuation of Sevastopol. The author brilliantly conveys the oppressive atmosphere of the scene where danger, anger and panic collide until it becomes a nightmare. This crowd of human beings suddenly turns into an inhuman and ugly beast devoid of any feelings or pity. And it's in this infernal chaos that Pyotr meets Katya, the most beautiful girl he's ever seen and saves her from being trampled on by a merciless horde. Later they'll meet again in even worse circumstances, this time Katya will rescue him from being butchered by Turkish soldiers. They have a lot in common, they are both survivors willing to do everything it takes to stay alive.

As soon as Pyotr meets Katya, she never really leaves his mind, this becomes like a fantasy, an obsession. When at one point, much later, he is offered a chance of a new life and a new beginning he nearly lets it pass...
Katya harbors a secret - when revealed, it's like a thunderclap, it's jaw-dropping, flabbergasting.... and I absolutely never saw it coming. What a fantastic twist!

The novel is an adventure full of lessons where life is shown as a relentless teacher. Pyotr's only option if he wanted to survive was to adapt and learn from it and he was a good pupil! At one time he has the courage to take the only possible decision that would enable him to go on and survive. All the hardships that he went through only made him stronger and forged him into a new man. He would never have become that man if he had stayed Count Pyotr Romanov. This new man is without fear, without regrets or even shame and he chooses simply to live.

The author has built a poignant and complex story that expertly interweaves history with fiction. Everything about it is excellent, from the characterization to the setting and writing. He's skillful at reviving tragedy, misery, courage, cowardice and hope.

I've loved every book by Dirk Hessian I've read but I've got to say that this time he has surpassed himself. This is such a riveting page-turning historical tale! I highly recommend it and give 5 big stars!
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