Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Midnight in St. Petersburg

Midnight in St. Petersburg takes place in pre-revolutionary Russia.  Orphaned Inna Feldman flees her home in Kiev where a pogrom is beginning, for St. Petersburg where she has a distant relative that she hopes will take her in. The Leman family agrees to let her stay for a few days but are fearful of letting her stay longer as Inna has no papers to identify herself. She left them behind, as well as her Jewish identity, and stole the papers of a wealthy woman during the pandemonium of the prime minister's assassination at a concert that the Tsar had also attended.

Inna and her cousin Yasha Kagan, who lives and works for the Leman's in their violin making workshop, soon become attracted to each other and Yasha convinces them that Inna should stay for awhile and begin an apprenticeship in the workshop to help pay for her keep. Inna agrees and stays for several months, meeting all of the Leman's friends including an Englishman, Horace Wallick, who works for Faberge and has fallen in love with her. She also becomes enamored with a priest that she met on the train to St. Petersburg, Father Grigory, who is becoming famous by his last name, Rasputin.

As the revolution continues to get bigger, restrictions on Jews are lifted but soon are put back into place.  When Inna is asked by a member of the aristocracy to repair a Stradivarius, she thinks that she can get away from another coming pogrom by escaping St. Petersburg for Yalta when she delivers the repaired violin.  Does she go alone? Take Yasha or Horace with her?  Is she able to escape? You will have to read the book to find out!

The plot was somewhat predictable. I knew which man Inna would pick based on the type of woman that she was. What I could not predict was the ending, which surprised me a little.  You knew it was going to end in either 1 or 2 ways.  I did enjoy, however, learning about the era and how the Russian people coped with all of the problems a revolution brings, ie, food shortages, uncertainty and for the Jews, deciding whether to leave Russia or stay.

The storyline about Inna's passion for one of her suitors was exciting. I won't tell you which one! Most of the hints that the author gave the reader were from Inna's thoughts.  It would have been nice to have had more of them.

I enjoyed the book and hope to both read more about this era and more from this author.

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