Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More rockin' reads in the New Year

OK, can we call today diarrhea of the mouth (umm, keyboard, I guess). Or, just making up for lost time.

I have long been fascinated by Russian history, particularly the reign of the last tsar, Nicholas II, and the Imperial family's tragic deaths at the hands of the Ural Soviet in July 1918. After reading The Riddle of Anna Anderson by Peter Kurth in the early 80's, I was fascinated by the idea that the tsar's youngest daughter had escaped.

Flash forward 20-odd years. The DNA has shown that Anna Anderson was not related to the Imperial bodies found in the early 90's. However, this case is now erupting in interesting fiction. I have read a couple GREAT books using the Anna Anderson story as a backdrop, in City of Shadows by Ariana Smith, or as a fictionalized biography in Mary Morrissy.

City of Shadows is a gritty murder mystery set in 1930's Berlin. A Russion club owner coerces his secretary into getting a mental patient out of an asylum and styling her as the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Dubbed Anna Anderson, the patient resides with the secretary (Esther, a Russian Jew) and then the murders begin....Well written, steeped in history and with a twist at the end, this book is sure to entertain any mystery lover, not just Romanov buffs.

The Pretender is a book looking at the early years of Anna Anderson--in the asylum after her attempted suicide, then producing a possible history for her based on what wee know of her and the DNA results that say she was a Polish woman named Franziska Schanzkowska. A troubling book in many ways, leavines you wanting more in a GOOD way. A look at a possible sociopath who was transformed through fate into an Imperial Princess (or so she claimed, though, obviously disproven.

AWESOMELY good books!

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