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The Secret City: A Novel in Three Parts Paperback – February 14, 2007

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Hugh Walpole was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1884, before moving to England. He wrote a great many books, of which Mr Perrin and Mr Traill was his favourite. He died in London in 1941. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: BiblioBazaar (February 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0554136368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0554136363
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Format: Paperback
I eagerly purchased this book after reading the description on the back. It purported to be Walpole's 'masterpiece' according to the Daily Telegraph, and apparently was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1919.
Set at the time of the Russian revolution (for clarity, the second one, not the first) I spent the entire 446 pages waiting for something, anything, to grab me as either a plot, or a central thread, or even a connection really as to what this book was about.
Divided into three sections, the book follows many lives intertwined by different arrivals in Petrograd, Russia, and a family already living there. There is vague mention of a 'monster sighting' beneath a frozen river....there is political intrigue...there is a love story...and there is the revolution. But sadly, none of these themes ever emerges victorious over the others in captivating a reader's interest, at least this reader, and by the end of the tale you are left wondering what you just read.
There are far better portraits of revolutionary Russia, pre-, during, and post-, written by native authors. I highly recommend their works over this one, as it never fully hit the mark, and having recently read my first Tolstoy, I was far more convinced of the landscape painted by him than I was by Walpole's.
Other novels by the same author sound intriguing, but this is, in my humble opinion, not one to get very excited about. His writing style is good, his characters are realistic, but his story overall left me quite flat, as I was never quite able to determine what it really was.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a book that needs to be really read, if you are looking for light entertainment, it's probably not going to do it for you. There are many layers to this onion, and it takes a dedicated reader to find its gems. It's worth the read just to evolve, as the characters do, into a more understanding person of those different from us.
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The Secret City: A Novel in Three Parts
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