The Mirrored World

The Mirrored World

A Novel

Book - 2012
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A novel of love, madness, and devotion set against the extravagant royal court of eighteenth-century St. Petersburg. Born to a Russian family of lower nobility, Xenia, an eccentric dreamer who cares little for social conventions, falls in love with Andrei, a charismatic soldier and singer in the Empress's Imperial choir. Though husband and wife adore each other, their happiness is overshadowed by the absurd demands of life at the royal court and by Xenia's growing obsession with having a child--a desperate need that is at last fulfilled with the birth of her daughter. But then a tragic vision comes true, and a shattered Xenia descends into grief, undergoing a profound transformation that alters the course of her life. Turning away from family and friends, she begins giving all her money and possessions to the poor. Then, one day, she mysteriously vanishes. Years later, dressed in the tatters of her husband's military uniform and answering only to his name, Xenia is discovered tending the paupers of St. Petersburg's slums. Revered as a soothsayer and a blessed healer to the downtrodden, she is feared by the royal court and its new Empress, Catherine, who perceives her deeds as a rebuke to their lavish excesses. In this evocative and elegantly written tale, Dean reimagines the intriguing life of Xenia of St. Petersburg, a patron saint of her city and one of Russia's most mysterious and beloved holy figures. This is an exploration of the blessings of loyal friendship, the limits of reason, and the true costs of loving deeply..
Publisher: New York : Harper, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780061231452
Characteristics: x, 245 p. ; 24 cm


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Oct 13, 2015

After reading the Madonnas of Leningrad, I was quite disappointed with this book, which I found moved way to slowly.

ChristchurchLib Jul 24, 2014

Narrated by her closest friend, this novel recounts the life of Xenia Grigoryevna, patron saint of St. Petersburg. After Xenia loses her family at a tender age, she becomes a singer in the Imperial choir, marries a handsome military officer, and - in the wake of a terrible, fateful vision - loses him, along with their child. Reeling from the tragedy, Xenia relinquishes all her worldly possessions and takes to the streets, where she ministers to the poor. Alas, Xenia's behavior as a "holy fool" incurs the displeasure of the royal family, who view her actions as a criticism of their extravagant lifestyle. Readers interested in 18th-century courtly life in Russia may also want to check out Eva Stachniak's The Winter Palace, which traces Catherine the Great's rise to power.
Historical Fiction July 2014 Newsletter.

Jan 07, 2013

This story was good, but not great. I don't know if I have the capacity to understand the writing and perfection that this author puts in. However, her character development is ideal.

Nov 17, 2012

Although Xenia, the heroine, remains inscrutable, her cousin Darya (the narrator) is sympathetic. It helps to know something about Russian history.

Nov 15, 2012

Not very good


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