09 February 2012

Post 477: Enchantments

Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison. ISBN: 9781400063475 (eGalley - publishes March 6, 2012).

I owe you a general update, but for now, have a thing! Enchantments is told from the point of view of Masha, one of Rasputin's daughters and the playmate of the Tsar's only son. It's a sort of weird but effective blend of historical fiction/coming of age/autobiography, with journal elements thrown in. She knows that we "know" he was either a devil or a miracle worker with heightened sexual appetites, strange powers, and an amazingly robust constitution.

However, instead of learning more about Rasputin, we are presented with yet another illusive facet of who he may have been, as seen through Masha's eyes. While Masha may have had a better understanding of her father than the average daughter, her eyes were still tinted with the love (and/or other emotions) a daughter has for the man who took part in creating her. Instead, we learn more about Masha herself as she comes to terms with her father's sexuality, in somewhat graphic and slightly uncomfortable detail, and recognizes (and fears) that she may have similar sexual appetites.

Additionally, Masha has a penchant for providing relief to the tsarevich through her fantastical stories, much as Rasputin enthralled her with his own stories. Indeed, we never see Rasputin painted so clearly as when Masha is telling one of her stories, further blurring the line between the man her father was and the myth of Rasputin. But although the reality may be blurred, one can almost sense the underlying truth in Masha's stories, which capture the essence of who Rasputin was to her and how she perceived him. That she shares these, and similar stories with the tsarevich, gives us insight into how her world view has been affected by having as unique a man as Rasputin for her father

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: eGalley provided by Netgalley.
I'm posting this without editing again. I've been busy, you guys. 
*Post post-edited on Feb 10, 2012.

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