When Ivan Annenkov, an upper-class guards officer, is caught up in the Decembrist uprising in Russia in 1825 and convicted of treason, his lover, Paulina Gueble faces the agonising decision to either follow him to a Siberian prison camp, or face life without him. What then follows is a story, based on fact, which with honesty and compassion, shows that even in the bleakest of situations love can overcome adversity.
From the opulence of the Russian Imperial court, to the cruel majesty of the Siberian steppes, the story quite simply flies off the page. The harshness of the environment and the agonising dilemma faced by the central characters is shown in such exquisite detail, that as you read, the story unfolds almost cinematically in your mind, and as you sense the brutal cold and hear the clink of the manacles which lock the prisoners to their fate, you truly imagine that you are there.
There is no doubt that Catherine Weir has a great skill for storytelling, and in using her impeccable knowledge of Russia, she has created a dramatic and enduring story, not just of star-crossed lovers, but also of a country on the brink of revolution.
My thanks to Lovereading for a review copy of this book.