Maid of Baikal: A Novel of the Russian Civil War Kindle Edition
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Zhanna, a messianic “Joan of Arc” character arises from a small village in Siberia and leads the White Russians into battle against the Communist Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. Fighting the sexism and misogyny of that era and in that part of the world, Fleming creates a larger-than-life heroine who is powerful, compelling, and real. She is experienced through the eyes of an American army officer, fresh from the World War I battlefields of France and has been transferred to Siberia. The American government has sent US troops to Siberia to give limited non-combative aid to White Russians. While he is officially in charge of wireless communications for the railroad, in truth he is a spy and is more deeply involved in the politics and combat than his limited role suggests.
The setting of this historical novel was new and fascinating to me. Fleming describes the Siberian tundra vividly, and stitches the fiction with real history so seamlessly that it was difficult to separate history from fiction. Zhanna, the Joan of Arc character is three dimensional and believable. Ned, the American army officer who observes all, is as real to me as an old friend. The secondary characters are also well developed. As in a Tolstoy novel, these characters range from loveable to despicable, and Fleming has created them with all their strengths and foibles. He does the same with the historical characters, as well.
Enjoy a fascinating and absorbing read during the coming holidays!
Readers who enjoy a well written story will find this book a rare treat. It gave me a great understanding of a time and a place I knew nothing about; and also connected this place with the bigger global picture. I really enjoyed watching how a single person might have such a huge impact on history.
The book can be a challenging read at first. However, once I made it through chapter 2, I found the rest of the book went quite smoothly. As I continued on with the story, I started to realize how valuable chapter 2 was in setting the stage for so many characters. I was also quite impressed with how the author took a dinner party, made it so in-depth and painted such a picture of the characters and the time and place.
Although I am not a particularly religious person, the voices that played such a role in the Maids character were not a distraction or an unbelievable aspect of the book. They played their part and the fact that they were "off stage" throughout the entire story and never explicitly written worked for me.
As I was reading Admiral Kolchak's key speech late in the book, I was reminded of another book I read recently that talked about an important characters big speech and it's impact on everyone who listened to; But that author did not bother to write the speech itself. I was struck by how important reading the Admiral's speech was to understanding the impact of the Maid on his character and ultimately to how the story unfolds.
There is a whole lot of detail throughout the entire book about Russia and the specific settings throughout the story. I often wondered about the value of so much information but ultimately the depth of the detail was very helpful in helping me enjoy the story. There are plenty of anachronisms but they help make the story so true to the times. When the author used an old Russian unit of measure he explained it. The first time I came across an old terms, I checked the end notes and it was fine for the rest of the book.
I really enjoyed the cocktail party that ended the book. It was short and to the point in the way the it brought closure to so many characters stories.
Worth adding to your reading list!
Most recent customer reviews
Received a copy for an honest review.
To be honest, I don't remember learning much about Russian history in high school.Read more