46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Read the fact and the fiction,
This review is from: One Night in Winter (The Moscow Trilogy) (Hardcover)
I almost never read historical fiction. I much prefer my history books to be non-fictional, and I do worry that my poor befuddled mind might end up conflating fact and fiction. However Simon Sebag Montefiore is one of my favourite historians and I found myself being sucked in to reading this, his most recent historical novel.
What particularly intrigued me was a recent newspaper piece by Montefiore which, though clearly a PR piece for this book, set out the original real historical background to the story. It detailed how two children of elite Soviet figures had ended up shooting each other and sparking a spiral of typically Stalinist paranoid investigation and quasi purge - but this time the terror fell first on a set of school children.
Without giving away too much of the plot of this book, almost every character finds themselves falling into very dark times and no one gets a perfectly happy ending.
Stalin comes across as by far the most convincing and rounded character as you would expect for a writer who has produced two of the best histories of the man. However the completely invented politburo member Hercules Satinov does transform quickly from a stock character into a very sympathetic figure who, by the end, is a much more interesting character than the intended heroine Serafima. Indeed I became much more worried about the fate of Satinov's 6 year old daughter Mariko than I did about Serafima.
In summary not only did it manage to sneak past my doubts about historical fiction, it has made me want to go back and read properly Simon Sebag Montefiore's Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar again to remind myself of the facts of the original story this was based on. Normally I would not do so, but on this case I thoroughly recommend anyone to read both the factual and the fictional accounts of this tale.