Set against the dramatic and dangerous backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, culminating in his invasion of Russia, this book has everything a saga needs: love, war, death, betrayal, heartache, hope and a cantankerous matriarch.
Anna is the first in a trilogy commonly referred to as The Kirov Saga and is the story of Anne Peters, an Englishwoman forced by circumstances after her father's death to take employment as a governess. Since Anne is a governess much of the first half of the book involves her day-to-day life and interactions with the Kirovs and their children, so if you need a heroine dodging silver bullets and leaping tall buildings with a single bound this might not be the book for you, but if you like your sagas big and fat with a heavy dose of soap opera I'd definitely consider giving this one a whirl.
A Russian diplomat named Count Kirov brings Anne to Russia to save her from prison, and Anne finds herself governess to his two daughters and irrevocably in love with the Count.
The ideal book to while away a rainy day.
Warmly received in the count's diverse Petersburg household--which includes his ineffectual wife, Irina; his vitriolic mother, Vera; and a host of ebullient relatives--Anne, now called Anna Petrovna, predictably, falls in love with the count, whose response is guarded.
What I liked: The historical setting, the infos on the russian life style prior to the communist revolution.
I like it when an author is gutsy enough to do that.
In this first book of the Kirov series, the reader is hard put (at first), to find a consequence for marital infidelity. (However, later in the story, there is a consequence of the choice made that results in a family estrangement, and to give the author credit, it is possible that this was her purpose in writing; to show that there *are* lasting consequences in our life decisions. A subtle lesson for the reader!) However, I do find a difference between my all-time favorite writer (Elizabeth Goudge), and this novel. Goudges characters, although their struggles are real and obvious, seem to be stronger in their moral fiber (and I wonder if this is the trait that is missing in much of our contemporary literature; the black and white of choice, has become meshed and now become grey.) A reviewer, I suppose, is not supposed to moralize.' However, as we call to mind our love of literature and the classics, we find we are most moved by those characters who are either openly evil (and we are shocked by it), or admire those who stand fast for goodness and truth. Sometimes there is hope for change, and personally I feel that is where the best of literature comes in; when there is a redemption for the characters and hope for a different outcome than the consequence of evil. I have a hard time understanding how a Savior who has given His own life so that mankind can have real hope for his personal failures can be offensive? I do not mean to bring up a debate, but we as we see how literature over the years has progressed I must admit that of those who wrote the classics, many at least admitted (or referred to, however subtly), to the existence of a Creator, and I doubt whether He was portrayed purposely to bring offence to the reader.) I enjoyed this novel but I do wish the author had given the reader a story that showed more of the triumph of the human spirit over circumstances, rather than the dark consequences of war and human nature. When the reader finally does see the results of Anna and Count Kirovs choices, a good question to ask might be, "what price are we willing to pay for personal happiness? The reader will enjoy the story and be caught up in all the romance of the period, the descriptions of the banquets, the attention paid to the conventions and structure in society, the White Nights', the food and dancing, the countryside scenery and opulent mansions, and feel with the characters themselves the tragedy and pathos that war brings to human existence.
Finally, desperate for historical fiction set in Russia (why are there so few titles?), I picked this one up and gave it a shot. The first two parts are the strongest as they give the reader the opportunity to discover Russia through the eyes of English governess Anna and experience first-hand the impact Napoleon had on Russia in the early 19th century. I tend to appreciate a deeper level of detail in historical novels but some readers may find it off-putting.
In 1993 she won the Romantic Novelists' Association Romantic Novel of the Year Award with Emily, the third volume of her Kirov Saga, a trilogy set in nineteenth century Russia.