Enchantments
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Enchantments

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  1,518 ratings  ·  314 reviews
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

From Kathryn Harrison, one of America’s most admired literary voices, comes a gorgeously written, enthralling novel set in the final days of Russia’s Romanov Empire.

St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsa...more
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Random House (first published January 1st 2012)
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Misfit
Lots of pretty words, not much substance.

Clearly, this book is much too literary for my tastes, and I should know by now to look for that at the top of book promo and run the other way. This "what if" book begins with the death of Rasputin, and his two daughters are taken into the royal household with the hopes that eldest daughter Masha has her father's gift of healing. Masha spends lots and lots of time with the young tsarevich, and to pass the time she tells him lots and lots of stories. Stor...more
Cynthia
Rasputin Live!

I haven’t read Harrison in years though I enjoyed her earlier works. Reading “Enchantments” felt like a homecoming. I’m shocked to see other reviewers didn’t like it as much as I did. Harrison’s writing is top notch. There were two or three chapters I marked to go back and read again because her prose is so beautiful. As usual Harrison’s prose is highly sensual and often lush. In this book Harrison uses some well known historic facts surrounding the killing of the Romanovs as a ste...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

You may not know Matryona Grigorievna by her first two names, but you will recognize her last, infamous name: Rasputina. The daughter of either Russia's most famous eccentric and healer or her most prolific sham, depending on who is asked, Masha's unique and by turns sad, very strange and moving story of life after her father's abrupt (and excessively violent) murder is a sure-to-please strong-female-character-powered novel. Enchantments was exactly...more
Joanna
I read about 60 pages of this book and then gave up. I love love love Romanov stories, but this one is terrible.

The author writes in a meandering tone and shifts the setting of what's currently going on without warning. At one point you're reading the narrator's thoughts, then she randomly goes back in time, and then we're back in the present. There are no signifiers that this is happening, and it is really wearing.

I agree with the other reviewers who said the author tries much too hard to be "l...more
Simon
Good God in heaven, my eyeballs hurt. There is a scene in which Nagorny troops off with the Tsarevich to get him deflowered by a local peasant girl. There is a scene in which the bullet-riddled bodies of the Grand Duchesses appear to Mashka (that would be Maria Rasputin to US) just to let her know that Alyosha the Sunbeam is thinking about her inside a Faberge egg in the afterlife. If that sentence made sense to you, this is the book for you. Otherwise, run like a deer. It is enough to make that...more
Jenny Q
3.5 Stars. I was really looking forward to reading a novel of Rasputin's daughter, and I was even more pleased to discover that Alexei Nikolaevich, the doomed Romanov tsarevich, was such a central figure to the novel. This is a novel about the last days of the Romanovs, but in this story, the four princesses take a back seat to their younger brother. This is a book for Alexei, and I like that.

After her father is murdered, eighteen-year-old Masha Rasputin, along with her younger sister Varya, is...more
Misty Baker
I love learning new things. Usually they come in the form of lessons:

“Slamming your hand in the oven hurts.”

“Trees don’t move, avoid running into them.”

“Leave the gun…take the canoli.”

but in that rare opportunity that I get to expand my brain under the assumption of pure entertainment I get giddy.

When I was in High School, Disney released a movie called “Anastasia.” I loved this movie (Don’t judge me!) and as a result became unabashedly obsessed with the Romanov dynasty. I watched movies about t...more
Lydia Presley
I desperately wanted to love this book. The cover, the Romanov's, the tragedy of Russia during this time period - it should all add up to be heart-wrenchingly beautiful.. but it was lacking a bit for me.

There's no doubt that Kathryn Harrison is a writer who commands attention - she had to have been otherwise I think I may have put the book down about halfway through. Instead, I persevered, muddling my way through fragments of stories until I reached the end. I think what it boiled down to was th...more
Felice
The Romanovs have their own special cottage industry in historical fiction. The romances, the revolution, the eggs, the hemophilia, the assignations, WWI, Anastasia and Rasputin have all combined to make the Romanovs the most fictionalized royals this side of the Tudors. So you have to figure that a writer must have a powerful love for those families and/or feel as though they have something new to bring to the already existing legends in order to pen another 80,000 words on them.


Is this why Ka...more
AliceinWonderland
- There were so many reasons to like this book from the start; especially someone who loves historical fiction, finds Rasputin fascinating and has empathy of the doomed Russian Imperial family, but Harrison manages to eliminate all of these positive feelings.
- I was very hopeful when first reading this book...the writing was pretty decent, the characters seems to have potential to be very interesting...but then about halfway through, once you realize these hopes are not going to pan out, but you...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
While I was in college, I got to see the Nicholas and Alexandra Exhibition in Wilmington, DE that included, among other things, lots of jewels, a wealth of photos, and the blood-stained and bullet-riddled wall where the royal family was executed. It was a sight I wasn't prepared for, and made for me the tragedy of the Romanovs uncomfortably real. Since then, I've been taken with fiction about that doomed family, in search of a novel that balances the silly excess of the Romanovs with a humane te...more
Elizabeth B
As another reviewer said "Lots of pretty words, little substance" and I couldn't agree more whole-heartedly. While there were some wonderfully drawn passages in this novel to set the atmosphere, it seemed the author tried TOO hard to evoke a literary style to this novel. Even in wordy literary novels, though, each word has a purpose and, in this case, the words served no purpose to move the novel forward. Instead, it became a chore to try and move through the passages and most people will find t...more
W
Apr 14, 2012 W rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012-read
This historical fiction novel is based around the life of Masha, the daughter of the infamous Rasputin. After his death, she is sent to live with the Romanovs and this novel tells of her life through the stories which she shares with the young tsarevich Alyosha.

The novel was told in very descriptive writing, making the reader feel immersed in the early 1900s Russia during the long, dark days of the Romanovs' house arrest. The stories that Masha shared with Alyosha were interesting as well, a mix...more
Linda Lipko
Oh how I loved this book. It was a perfect opportunity to put he stress of the last few weeks aside and to delve into great historical fiction.

Told from the perspective of Rasputin's daughter Masha, the reader learns a softer side of Rasputin. Known as the Mad Monk with a libido, a dirty peasant who helped topple the Romanov dynasty, and a starets who influenced Nicholas and Alexandra in their quest to help Alosha their hemophiliac son, Masha paints a broader picture of Rasputin.

In this novel we...more
Jill
3.5 stars

After her father's death in 1917, Masha, elder daughter of Grigori Rasputin, the monk and mystic, is sent with her sister to live with the Tsar Nikolay and his family. There she befriends Alyosha, the tsar's son. Under house arrest Masha and Alyosha spend their days together with her telling him stories of her life, her father and the history of the Romanovs. A deep bond develops between these two young people.

Author Kathryn Harrison has a beautiful voice. Her use of imagery is impressi...more
Erin Cataldi
LOVED this book!! It was easily the best historical fiction I've read all year. One of the reasons I loved this book so much was the fact that it took place in St. Petersburg and I just visited there over the summer and knew pretty much all the palaces and sites they described. It was like reliving my trip!

The story follows Rasputin's daughter, Masha, as she copes with the brutal death of her father and the overthrow of the Tsar. She and her sister are exiled along with the Tsar's family and in...more
Marg

I have a number of historical eras that I seem to be drawn to when it comes to books. Among those are books set in the medieval era, World War I and II, and books set in Russia, especially those featuring the Romanov family.

It was therefore no surprise that I was interested in this book when I first heard of it. The main character of this book is Masha Rasputina, daughter of the infamous 'Mad Monk' Grigori Rasputin, which is an interesting choice of narrator that I have only seen used one other...more
Rachel
It would be very easy for me, if I chose, to pick apart Enchantments with an extremely critical eye - the thematic points are not woven in tightly enough; Alyosha is not much of a convincing character; Masha's adult life is not drawn very fully; the detached, philosophical tone Alyosha and Masha used when talking about the revolution didn't come off as well as it could have.

(Never mind that romanticizing books about the Romanovs aren't usually my sort of thing.)

But, with this novel, I don't actu...more
Judy Chessin
I found the stories in this book enchanting: both the magic stories spun by Masha (daughter of Rasputin) to entertain Handsome Aloysha, Tzar Nicholas' hemophiliac son, as he and his family awaited his fate. As a child I learned of this story through the book and movie Nicholas and Alexandra, and became fascinated by life in that royal court and the "demonic" Rasputin. I never knew he had a daughter. The nuance of this book that I liked was the revelation that there was never magic involved, simp...more
Dan
Tales historical and beguiling
A magical flying carpet is one of many fanciful enchantments that Kathryn Harrison uses to hold dread and despair at bay in her rich, imaginative and historical account of the collapse of the Romanovs, told from the perspective of Masha, the favorite daughter of Grigory Rasputin and the Scheherazade to the doomed tsarevich Alyosha, executed along with his parents and four sisters by the Bolsheviks on July 17, 1918.

Alyosha (Alexei), a hemophiliac, is bedridden and in...more
Bethany
Enchanments was an okay novel.

Harrison's syntax tripped me quite often with her habit of putting the subject after the verb or placing parenthetical information where it was slightly out of place syntactically. It took me nearly half of the book to get the hang of it.

Additionally, the first half -and perhaps even further- was not too interesting to me because it didn't seem to have any point. Each chapter was just Aloysha telling Masha a story from the past or Masha telling Aloysha a story. As...more
Amy L. Campbell
Note: Advance Reader Copy provided by Netgalley.

Enchantments is the story of Rasputin's oldest daughter Masha and how she copes after his death. Although there are vignettes and flashback including Rasputin, and Masha's relationship with him, ultimately it is about her ability to cope with having had a father who was perceived as a madman and great healer both. Masha's own perceptions of her father are included and at times she admits uncomfortable truths about her father's lack of hygiene and s...more
Sam
Set in Russia during the 1917 Revolution, Enchantments is narrated by Masha, daughter of the infamous 'mad monk' Rasputin. After her father is murdered by those suspicious of his links with the Tsarina and her son Aloysha, Masha and her sister are taken under the protection of the Tsar. But as the Revolution continues and the royal family are put under house arrest, it becomes clear that Masha and the Romanovs are in grave danger. For Masha and Alyosha, their growing friendship becomes a way of...more
Judy King
I'll read almost anything about the Tsar and his family and that the end of the reign of the Romanov family -- even abut Rasputin. I wasdelighted to discover Harrison's Enchantments -- but for me, the book didn't live up to the hype, or even the rich and wonderful cover design. Harrison is a talented wordsmith -- she can turn a wonderful phrase -- but her desire to spin prose and poetry in the midst of this story became annoying -- quickly...I think I would have loved the book if she had played...more
Kiki
This was an interesting novel, and at times, it was very compelling reading. Masha, Grigory Rasputin's older daughter, is ensconced with the Romanov family after her father's hideous death, as they are taken prisoner by the Bolsheviks. She has become acquainted with the family over the years since her father has been very close to the Tsarina and the Romanov's only son, Aloysha, who is afflicted with hemophilia.

While Harrison is a very thoughtful writer with an wonderful prose style, I really fe...more
Sandra
Com uma capa e um resumo tão atrativos tive de ter este livro na minha estante.

A história em si, o enredo baseado em factos verídicos são uma mais valia para este livro.

No entanto, a escrita desta autora, que não me agradou de todo, estragou a minha experiência.

O quebrar de ritmo e a fratura entre capítulos (ora no passado, ora no presente) que a meu ver não tiveram a suavidade necessária, assim como o relato um pouco frio, embora informativo, de momentos emotivos de tamanha tragédia familiar da...more
Raisa_k_140511
An interesting russian novel that showed the Romanov's (royal family) tragic fall. And how Rasputin's daughters tried to adapt with the Romanov's after their fathers death. Rasputin's daughter Masha meets Alyosha one of the Romanov's sons. Alyosha was a bedridden boy because he's sick. Masha accompanies him all the time and tell each other stories about Rasputin's and Romanov's history. I didn't expect the ending of the story. I was amazed how fate can change everything. I liked the best in the...more
Charly
Aug 28, 2012 Charly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is a really engrossing piece in which Masha the daughter of Rasputin is brought to the Tsar's household at the death of her father. She is there in hopes that she has her father's healing powers and the ability to ease the pain and suffering of Prince Alyosha. The time frame is the end of the Tsarist rule and the subsequent revolution. Her marvelous stories used to entertain Alyosha are fanciful, and mystical and wrapped in a love she is reluctant to embrace entirely.

There is a bit of fant...more
Melinda
After Rasputin's murder his two daughters become wards of Tsar Nicholas and go to live at Tsarskoe Selo with the Imperial Family. I have been intrigued with the Romanovs since I read Nicholas and Alexandra in high school and devour any books on this subject. Enchantments didn't disappoint me. The book starts out a bit slowly but hang in there the payoff is worth it. Well researched with wonderfully descriptive writing this was an amazing read that transported me to another time and place. Recomm...more
Maria
O assassinato de Grigory Rasputine, apelidado de "Monge Louco", vai fazer com que as suas duas filhas sejam levadas para o palácio dos Romanov, com o intuito de que Masha, a filha mais velha, pudesse salvar o seu único filho varão, Alyosha.

Pensando que Masha possuía os mesmos poderes que o pai, a czarina Alexandra deixa que os dois jovens passem muito tempo juntos, levando a troca de confidências e a um amor pueril por parte de ambos.


http://marcadordelivros.blogspot.pt/2...
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Kathryn Harrison is the author of the novels Envy, The Seal Wife, The Binding Chair, Poison, Exposure, and Thicker Than Water.
She has also written memoirs, The Kiss and The Mother Knot, a travel memoir, The Road To Santiago, a biography, Saint Therese Of Lisieux, and a collection of personal essays, Seeking Rapture.
Ms. Harrison is a frequent reviewer for The New York Times Book Review; her essay...more
More about Kathryn Harrison...
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“If complete enlightenment demands relinquishing the self, then complete enlightenment implies the acceptance of mortality. Not that there isn't more to being enlightened than accepting that our lives are brief and end when we did. But I do think it's a requirement.” 1 likes
“It's terrible to live believing that everything you do is of the utmost importance.” 0 likes
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