“Let me tell you a fairy tale.
I used to tell stories like this all the time; it used to be so important. It even saved my life once. Now let me see, how do fairy tales begin?”
My first Sedgwick novel was back in June 2015. Like this one, it was historical fiction, but was set in WWI in England. I was gripped by the first few chapters, and soon found myself finishing it in two sittings around two days. I adored the story, the writing style, and the voices of the characters. It was a 5 star read, a favorite even, and Sedgwick became one of my favorite authors, and I knew I just had to get ahold of more of his books.
Once again, Sedgwick does not disappoint.
Beyond the vast plains, deep in the snowy forest, the great bear that is Russia wakes from a long sleep and marches to St. Petersburg to claim its birthright.
Its awakening will mark the end for the Romanovs, and herald an era that will change the world. In 1917 the Bolsheviks hold power in the newly renamed Petrograd. Lenin and Trotsky govern from palaces where the Tsars once danced till dawn.
Another man played a part in it all. His name was Arthur Ransome, a journalist and writer who left his English home, his wife and daughter, and fell in love with Russia and a Russian woman, Evgenia.
This is his story.
Blood Red, Snow White is a novel surrounding the Russian revolution, following three different parts:
❥ A Russian Fairy Tale
❥ One Night in Moscow
❥ A Fairy Tale, Ending
The first part introduces us to all the characters that make up the whole novel. It is essentially a collection of short fairy tales, but we get to know how some of them end. The narrator tells us how we’re all used to fairy tales having happy endings, but by giving us a few examples within the novel, we quickly learn how quick the twist can come.
Thats especially highlighted at the end of the first part, where most of our characters stories intertwine.
“The time for princes and tsars and holy madmen was gone.
In its place came a world of war and revolution, of tanks and
telephones, murder and assassination.”
The second part of the story revolves around Arthur Ransome, the British journalist who wanders in Russia. We were introduced to him as a stranger in the first part, but he’s actually a very important part and the main character of this novel, because most of the things that happen are through his accounts.
I wont go into too much detail on that because of spoilers.
We follow up on the Russian Revolution as its breaking out, and we follow Arthurs life, through Russia and his job as a respected English man, working between England and Russia. And of course, we also meet new characters along the way. A lot of betrayals and shocking things happen as we near the end of the part.
“And how much do we ever know?
How much do we ever know of our own stories, as we live them?
I thought I knew what I was doing, and why. Or should I say, who
I was doing it for, but life is never that simple, and with hindsight
we see our lives laid out behind us and we think; God damn me to
Hell, I was a fool.”
The third and last part is all about how the main character reflects upon his choices and the things that have happened since he chose to go to Russia. All his past choices, present, and future is laid out on the table and he’s pondering whether or not he’s chosen the right thing.
A lot of things happen, wars still going on, both personal and around him. Choices and risks are taken.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, though I wish the pacing was a bit faster. I especially loved how it started out as a fairy tale story. I enjoyed all the characters, I loved how the stories came together in a subtle way, and the writing was mesmerizing and lyric.
Definitely an eloquent story, I highly recommend if you want a short historical fiction about the Russian revolution, though be aware that the story can be very slow and dragging at times.