Aussie Book Review: The Russian Tapestry by Banafsheh Serov

russianThe Russian Tapestry by Banafsheh Serov

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher/ DMCPR Media

Hachette, August 2013

Synopsis- A captivating tale of struggle, loyalty and love, inspired by a true story From St Petersburg, 1913, to Estonia, 1919, and beyond, THE RUSSIAN TAPESTRY spans wars, revolution and friendships that will grow as strong as the turmoil around them.

Marie Kulbas, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is excited about her new life in the vibrant city of St Petersburg. But as World War I escalates she must farewell those dearest to her when her brother and her fianc  leave for the German Front. Colonel Alexei Serov comes from a long line of professional soldiers. Leading his men is his birthright and his duty; his allegiance to Russia surpasses everything, including his obligations to his wife and family. His role is clear, until he meets Marie and suddenly emotions rise in him that he has never felt before. As their world starts to crumble, Marie and Alexei discover a love that they will cling to in their search for a path to safety.

Review- The Russian Tapestry is a story inspired by the real life love story of the author’s husband’s grandparents. Banafsheh Serov never met Alexei Serov and Marie Kulbas but she was intrigued by their story of migrating to Australia and the hardship they faced in Russia, that she was inspired to fictionalise their story to write this book.

Beginning in St Petersburg 1913, The Russian Tapestry follows the lives of Marie Kulbas and Colonel Alexei Serov whose lives cross during World War 1. Marie is the daughter of a wealthy merchant who faces hardship when her fiancé leaves for the German Front and goes missing in action. To feel like she is contributing toward protecting her country she becomes a nurse and this is where she meets Alexei-who is injured- for the first time. He is attracted to the young nurse immediately but as his injuries heal, he is soon discharged and doesn’t expect to see her again though he very much hopes he does. Alexei too remains on Marie’s mind in the time that follows, however she is overwhelmed with guilt at these unwanted feelings because her beloved fiancé is still missing.

In the years that follow, Marie’s family endures many difficulties and Alexei’s womanising and commitment to battle sees his marriage breakdown. Their paths cross again when Alexei is again injured in battle and this time they develop a close friendship. The attraction is still present but Marie is reluctant to let go of her missing fiancé and fears her reputation as Alexei is a married man. Alexei’s feelings for Marie never wane and even when he becomes a prisoner in war, she is the dream he holds onto. His life and family are at risk when he is forced to join a vigilante group known as the Red Army. He manages to escape, he finds Marie and with a divorce underway he can now finally look forward to a future with the woman he loves, Marie. But trouble still lies in the mix and Marie’s connection with Alexei places her in grave danger, so they flee, eventually migrating to Sydney.

The Russian Tapestry is such an interesting story, not only from its origins (the author’s inspiration) but how it captures wartime Russia and brings to life two characters that are able to make a new life for themselves in the face of adversity. I found the plot, the setting and the historical aspects of the story very engrossing. I could picture the time and the place and I enjoyed reading about World War I from the perspective of the Russians. However, the love plot between Marie and Alexei just didn’t feel very believable for me. Especially at their very first meeting at the Hospital; this is a catalyst for them eventually falling in love. For me, those scenes just didn’t hold the emotional impact I’d want to experience to really want this couple to survive the challenges placed before them. I understand the story was based on real life characters, but from a fictional perspective the love plot wasn’t as strong as the historical plot in my opinion.  As the story progressed I did experience a better emotional connection to Alexei and Marie and I was happy with how the story was resolved.

The Russian Tapestry is an engaging historical tale set during World War 1, featuring a real-life inspired love story. A great debut into fiction by Australian author, Banafsheh Serov.

Overall Rating

4/5

“I loved this book!”

The Russian Tapestry can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

Tomorrow on the blog, author Banafsheh Serov stops by to talk about the inspiration behind her novel- The Russian Tapestry.

This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge:

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5 comments

  1. Hi Lauren,
    I’ve been so busy trying to finish the first draft of my next book that I never got around to thanking you for reviewing my book. I’m delighted you’ve enjoyed The Russian Tapestry and appreciate your honesty in thinking certain scenes could have been written better.

    Like

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