Thursday, March 19, 2009
Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander is the fictionalized tale of Rasputin's last week, as told by his daughter. While some historical novels based on real events and using real people as characters can really bring the history to life, this story seemed overly emotional and overly simplified. Alexander did a pretty good job of weaving in historical information in a way that did not seem too forced or clunky, but he did it at the expense of detail. For example, even the Russian Revolution gets short shrift, leaving more space for for the banal romance between the narrator daughter and a mysterious soldier. Rasputin was a notorious figure in an era of dramatic upheaval. But despite copious research into his subject matter, Alexander does not tap into the rich vein of narrative ore available to him. The most interesting part of the book was the afterward explaining what happened to the real people after the events depicted in the novel. But for that sort of information and more, it would be better to read a good biography, such as Rasputin: The Saint Who Sinned by Brian Moynahan, or the source materials Alexander used, much of which can be found in The Rasputin File by Edvard Radzinsky.