Review: Midnight in St. Petersburg by Vanora Bennett

One woman and two suitors at the twilight of the Russian empire. This love story follows three very unlikely main characters, a Jewish girl running away from Jew hating South Russia, an Englishman working at famous Faberge shop and a radical Jew wanting to fight to live equally with the people of Russia.

This story starts in Sept 1911, pre-revolutionary Russia. Inna Feldman has fled the pogroms of the south to take refuge with distant relatives in Russia’s capital city. Welcomed by the flamboyant Leman family, she is apprenticed into their violin-making workshop.

Inna begins to feel at home in this very bohemian family but the fires of revolution are strong and things are rapidly changing in the city between the classes, especially among the Jewish people of Russia.

She loves her brooding cousin, Yasha, but he is wild, destructive and devoted to revolution, Horace Wallick, an Englishman who makes precious Faberge creations, is older and promises security and respectability. And, like many others, she is drawn to the mysterious, charismatic figure beginning to make a name for himself in the city: Rasputin.

This book has a lot to recommend itself: a stunning cover, a unique setting, and tender romance. In recent years I’ve read a lot of books set in Russia or by Russian authors. It’s a region that I don’t know much history about nor do I know much about their culture. But I’m intrigued by the area so I love reading books set in Russia or by Russian authors so I can gain a better understanding of an often forgotten culture in literature.

So needless to say this story about three unlikely characters set in a period of unrest and a period in history I absolutely LOVE, was a win win for me! There were a lot of things I liked about this novel but there were parts that I felt fell short making this just a three star book for me. That said, I hate when people knock three star reviews. The book was good and I enjoyed it…..that’s what a three star book is to me, but it didn’t blow me away.

The history was the strongest aspect of this novel for me. The story is rich in Russian history and the author was careful to help the reader navigate the complex history. I felt like I walked away with a better understanding of the period and the politics of the time. I was able to keep up and was never bogged down by the historic elements of the story.

This story also had a lot of romance. Now I love a sappy romance on occasion and this one did not disappoint. But while this had romance, I didn’t get that warm fuzzy feeling that I had expected and I think part of my issue was that I didn’t fully connect to Inna in the way that I had hoped. I think my biggest issue was I found Inna a little too fickle. I wished she was more decisive when it came to her heart and feelings. But that said, there is a happy ending and I am totally on board with how the book ended…..wonderful!

And can we talk about the cover for a minute? The cover captured my heart! It’s stunning and made me want to read this novel even more. It screams romance and history all at once. Well done with the cover, I’m completely in love with it!

While there were some obstacles with this book, overall I felt that it was a satisfying read that not only filled my desire to read something romantic, but also helps me better understand Russian culture and some of it’s history of this time period. A very satisfying, good read!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Midnight in St Petersburg by Vanora Bennett

  • Kindle, 384 pages
    Published January 19th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published April 11th 2013)
    ISBN 1250079438 (ISBN13: 9781250079435)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review.

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3 out of 5

Genre: Historical fiction, romance

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

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