Can I just say that I love books about Russia? I may be a bit biased since my heritage is Russian (or more specifically, Byelorussian), but whenever I see a novel set in Russia, and especially historical ones, I’m in like a good Vodka.
When I found out that there was a new Historical Novel about Russia , The Lost Souls of Angelkov, I was obviously excited. And, author Linda Holeman didn’t disappoint. Especially because she took the expected and turned it upside down.
Lost Souls opens with a kidnapping. From the first word we’re thrust into a tumultuous time in Russian history- the years just before the Revolution. It’s a time when the social and economic structure of the nobility and serf has begun to be overturned, and during the liberation, violence against the rich ensues. Mischa, the young son of a Russian Count is kidnapped in the forest. Count Angelkov is injured during the crime, unable to save his son, and returns home to his devastated young countess, Antonina Angelkov. As his wife drowns her sorrow in wine and vodka, the Count sinks deeper into illness and depression. Class struggles and a country changing as it tries to spring itself from feudalism set an emotional backdrop for this story of revenge, love, and tortured relationships.
What I loved: Lost Souls of Angelkov was not was it seemed. The novel brought a unique perspective both to the class struggles of pre-revolutionary Russia, and the people caught in the crossfire. I loved Holeman’s writing-it was fresh, original, and beautifully descriptive without being too much. She allowed us, the reader, to think, wonder, and become attached to the characters without thrusting them at us. We were able to feel the desperation of the characters, understand, and even empathize with them, even when we didn’t agree. I also really appreciated the fact that Holeman mostly stayed away from the politics of the time, and instead gave us a perspective from people who actually ‘lived’ the politics.
What I didn’t Love: At first, I wasn’t sure if I would like the book. It was a bit confusing, and surprisingly not at all what I expected. But, once I got stuck in, there was no getting out.
Recommend Factor: 7/10 (Historical novels about Russia aren’t for everyone.)
Unputdownable Factor: 9/10 (Once I got into it, I couldn’t rest until I knew what happened to Mischa.)
Words to describe The Lost Souls of Angelkov: evocative, thrilling, saddening, interesting, lovely
I was lucky enough to have been sent a copy of this novel by Random House Canada. The review is based on my own opinions.