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Red Mistress

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  772 ratings  ·  86 reviews
In the wake of the Russian Revolution, a determined young woman breaks with her past to become a spy in 1920s Paris, where shadowy intrigues and a dangerous romance put her loyalty to the test.

In the spring of 1914, Nadia Shulkina, the daughter of Russian aristocrats, looks toward a bright future. She has no premonitions of war, let alone the revolution that is about to de
Paperback, 290 pages
Published July 21st 2020 by Lake Union Publishing
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Average rating 4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  772 ratings  ·  86 reviews

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Stephanie Anze
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nadia Shulkina is the daughter of Russian nobility. She is a teenager that likes exploring, drawing and dreaming of balls and parties that she will be able to attend one day soon when the Bolshevik Revolution breaks out. Little by little Nadia's family losses its home, land, possesions, titles and lives. Soon the family is reduced to the clothes on their backs and a dwindling reserve of hope. Realizing that her only chance of survival is to work, Nadia does so. When she is proposed marriage to b ...more
Donna Hines
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
Espionage, secrets, lies, deceit, & reinvention!
What more can a young woman want than to take part in the action especially knowing she lost nearly everything her and her family possessed.
Nadia marries a Bolshevik in hopes of saving her family and her future but has no idea the despair that may lie ahead with the Russian Revolution and the uncertainty & aftermath.
What's known is that her life is about to change, with an affair or two, with a pregnancy, with requests for new identifications from
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It’s no secret I love history and historical fiction, but Russia and the Soviet Union have never been one of those areas that I have an interest in. I do, however, also love spy novels, so I thought I’d give The Red Mistress a try. Wow, I was not disappointed! From the first page, Ms Blackwell’s writing had me hook, line, and sinker.

The story revolves around Nadia, the daughter of a Russian Aristocratic family. She is a young teenager when the revolution begins and her world is upended and she q
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Red Mistress by Elizabeth Blackwell is an enjoyable historical fiction that encompasses the rise the rise and events of the Russian Revolution, and the immediate years thereafter.

This story is about Nadia whom was a part of the Russian royals/aristocracy during the time of this upheaval. Many were arrested and executed. A few were able to flee to other countries, where their lives were drastically altered and became impoverished. Others were lucky enough to find family, friends, or trades that a
Olesya Salnikova Gilmore
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
RED MISTRESS is one of those (now rare) books I couldn’t put down. It is the moving story of Nadia, a former aristocrat-turned Bolshevik spy, who has to survive in a dangerous world where nothing is as it seems, nothing is as it should be, and everything is at stake, including her heart.

I really loved Nadia, she is intelligent and likable. She is also such a sympathetic character, with emotional and physical wounds that simply made my heart ache, especially knowing that there were so many like
Sally Stanton
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great listen as the narrator was terrific. I enjoyed every minute as it moved along nicely and was a little different twist on historical fiction starting with the Russian Revolution which I find really interesting. Nadia (the red mistress) was very engaging and I liked hearing the story through her POV. I realized at the end that I had expected lots of intrigue, suspense and other great spy stuff which didn't materialize. I was really looking for more heart beating excitement but ins ...more
Kathleen Gray
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nadia and her family lived well before the Russian Revolution but then everything came tumbling down for her. Grinding poverty and being a non-person reduces her to a shadow of herself but her uncle Sergey is there as more or less of a safety net for both Nadia and her brother Vasily. Unfortunately, so is Alek, who before things went bad, flirted with her mother. Nadia marries Alek, becomes a translator, thanks to the English she learned from her governess, as well as her French, and then finds ...more
Karen  Schex
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Over the past few years, I've become a fan of historical fiction and while most books seem to focus on WW1 or WW2, Red Mistress takes us on a journey through the Russian Revolution. My ancestors are Russian, which made this story all the more poignant.

The story centers on Nadia, a young girl born into Russia’s aristocracy. Through a series of events during the Bolshevik Revolution, Nadia is forced to make a life-altering decision to save herself and her family and in turn, finds a way to reinven
Sydney Young
Relentless voice, driving our heroine to the disaster made of her life by the red revolution. Then the surprises come in angsty twists as you wonder how it will all end. Great escape, highly enjoyable. I couldn’t put it down.

Also hurrah, NOT WWII!
Aug 02, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 This had a lot going for it. It started out well, really pulling the reader into the life of Nadia Shulkina and her family. The strains and changes of the coming revolution also imprint themselves on Nadia, for hers is a large burden. The rest of the story is good, though perhaps not great. This novel could have been fantastic. It has all the elements. The problem is that the writer got too much in the head of the main character and her actions allowing all emotions, events, and important pi ...more

Firstly, I want to thank Goodreads as I won this Kindle in a giveaway for an honest review. I read some reviews on this book and it didn't thrill me as some others have heralded it. For me, there were parts that were slow and to be honest, I didn't think the spy angle on the part of Nadia was all that complicated. The beginning was OK but as it went on it sort of lost the fizz. Sorry to say, it wasn't a book that blew me away.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book because of Elizabeth Blackwell's previous books. They've kinda got that historical yet creepy ghost vibe on my opinion and the sypnosis for this one threw me. I loved it though!!!!!!!! The espionage, secrets, passion, and deception weaves into an amazingly great historical fiction book!!! Five stars from me ...more
Michael D
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book!

I found this book so interesting. My grandparents came to the United States from Russia. Both of them had passed away before I was born. It was great to have a glimpse of why they left Russia. They had gone to England and boarded a ship from there to the United States. They lived in New York.
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars
Okay, I really enjoyed this book. I really did. But I think the main problem was I had expected way too much after reading the synopsis. Red Mistress was actually one of my 5 star predictions, so guys, you get the height of my expectations! Anyway, I will delve deeper into what caused me to rate the book low, but first I would like to talk about what I loved in this book.

What I loved:
1) I really enjoy books that talk about how people were effected by war/revolution, both during it and
Jean Kolinofsky
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Before the Russian revolution, Nadia Shulkina and her family led a life of privilege, with a country estate and a home in Saint Petersburg. Nadia was taught by an English governess and adored her older brother Vasily. With the rise of the Bolsheviks her father was murdered, their estate and home were confiscated and she became a “former person”. With her new status she was not entitled to a food ration card and survived by becoming a cleaner in her former home.

Nadia takes on a number of jobs as
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Red Herring. This book seemed so real that I was *constantly* Googling to see if various people were in fact real. Only to get to the author's note at the end where Blackwell points out that at least a few characters were based on real life people - but the characters did not share the names of the people they were based on. From the opening opulence of Tsarist Russia just prior to WWI to the Bolshevik Revolution to the dramas of the new Political Directorate and Stalin's purges, this book spans ...more
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I initially chose Red Mistress, I was anticipating a solid espionage story set in early 1900s Russia to vary up my string of historical fiction reads. What I ended up reading was much more. The story follows Nadia Shulkina across several decades where author, Elizabeth Blackwell, effectively portrays Nadia's character growth throughout the years. We first learn about Nadia's noble Russian family, the Shulkins, from he
Cheryl Sokoloff
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Red Mistress is a historical fiction novel that begins in 1914 in pre revolutionary Saint Petersburg. It tells the story of Nadia Kushlinka, whose family is considered aristocratic. Nadia’s mother is French and her “au pair”, Mrs. Fields, was hired from London, to teach Nadia and her brother Vasily, English. When the revolution begins, Vasily goes off to fight, And life changes completely for Nadia. She must reinvent herself, in order to survive. Lucky for her, her language skills serve her extr ...more
Juliana Brush
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liberty Brassbridge
Red Mistress, a historical fiction by Elizabeth Blackwell was a joy to read. From the very beginning you could tell by the tone of the writing you were going to enjoy every part of the story. Blackwell makes a great transition first thing into the book and you will immediately be hooked by the first page. It starts off with Nadia, the main character, talking about her past. It is about the journey of her life starting in the year 1914 in Russia with the focus being on family. The way that Blackw ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley Uk for a copy in return for an unbiased and honest review.

Elizabeth Blackwell is a new author to me, and since she was recommended by my reading group and because I was interested to discover more about the Russian Revolution, I decided to request this novel . I am more than happy that I did.

I was captivated by the historical detail and the lengths to which the author went in her research to present a novel with such clarity was exceptional. I was i
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a well written story that kept my attention to the end. With just a little bit of intrigue woven throughout, the story will carry you through a troubled era of Russian history. When the Tsar of Russia is disposed of, anyone connect to the royal family becomes a target. Then begin the wars, the starvation, desolation, and more across the land. Communism takes hold and there are worries about Germany's Hitler. Life for Nadia Shulkin changes in hours, several times in her life. Raised in a ...more
Valerie Miller
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved It! 4.5 stars

Heart wrenching tale of a young aristocratic girl, that follows her and her family’s downfall during the Russian revolution. The story begins 3 years prior as we see her carefree days in both St. Petersburg and a summer country house, contrasting starkly with the cruelty, deprivation and starvation that follows. The author creates such vivid scenes of the desperation they felt at having not only their material things stripped away, but also their humanity.....for the previous
Jamie Jack
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: p-2020, historical
Historical Fiction the Way It Ought to Be

I love to read historical fiction, but I don't think I've read one before that was set around the time of the Russian Revolution with a female lead. Back when I was in high school at the height of the Cold War, I actually took a class in Russian history. The author has done an amazing amount of research to make this feel realistic and believable. She has certainly created a strong, sympathetic heroine who had and then lost much as a part of the Bolshevik
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erica Franco
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable, fast-paced historical fiction novel set in the time of the 1917 Russian Revolution and the years leading up to WWII. To be honest, I didn't have any prior knowledge of the Russian Revolution or the rise of Communism so I found my self googling to learn more as I made my way through the book. The main character, Nadia, is born into a very privileged life as part of an aristocratic family but that quickly changes as political powers shift in Russia. Nadia experiences more than he ...more
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was captivated from beginning to end! Cleverly structured, and well written to make you think you know what's happening and then to reveal that you don't. I couldn't put it down because I wanted to know what happened next.

The story alternates from the story of Nadia Shulkina, a young Russian Aristocrat in early 1914, and reports from London in 1938 about the death of a young woman named Marie Duvall. It is a poignant story about love, family, control, and a person's choices or lack thereof. It
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
Thanks to NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

So much of my beloved Historical Fiction these days is set during WWII England or France; while the stories are definitely worthy of telling, the topic can get a bit stale after a while. Elizabeth Blackwell's 'Red Mistress' is a breath of fresh air.

The writing is sharp, the action keeps a fairly steady pace throughout the book, and I felt deeply for the main character. Other than one slightly odd side-a
Kristi Jung
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Must Read

I have tears in my eyes and a grin across my face.. and I just finished the book at 2am. I literally could not put it down.

This book is about a Russian girl born in a wealthy family. She was 12 in 1917(?) when talk of revolution and of overthrowing the russian Tsar. 15 years old when it started (based on my recalling of the book, could be slightly inaccurate). Nevertheless, the book shows how several events at the same time over the course of many years changed Russia, and eventually
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy reading historical fiction. However, I have not read many books about the 1920's Russia and its spy network. That said, I really enjoyed this account of a woman born to a higher class family to have it taken away when the Bolsheviks emerged into power. Through her own fortitude and linguistic knowledge, Nadia is able to create a new life for herself as a somewhat spy in Paris.

Red Mistress give some insight on what a woman of this era had to do to survive being part of a non-existe
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As the daughter of a U.S. Foreign Service officer, Elizabeth Blackwell grew up in Washington, D.C., interspersed with stints in Africa, the Middle East and Europe--pretty much always with a book in hand. She majored in history at Northwestern University (hooray! more reading!) and received her master's in journalism from Columbia University, which led to a career as an editor and writer for a numb ...more

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