Friday, October 02, 2009

I've read two more books since the last post.
Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander is a wonderful work of historical fiction. I love reading historical fiction because - in addition to learning facts about a particular time and place in history - I'm able to feel what is in the hearts and minds of the people of that time. Through the emotions of the characters the period comes alive for me!
Alexander has taken pains to research the country of Russia, the time period of WWI, and the memoirs of Maria Rasputin - the eldest daughter of "The Mad Monk Rasputin". Hearing the story from the perspective of Maria removes the political taint that has colored all other tales of Tsar Nicholas and his family's seemingly bizarre relationship with Rasputin. Clearly Rasputin was a man of great contradictions - clairvoyance, gifts for healing on one side and drunkeness and sexual promiscuity on the other. In this book, Maria is a girl entering womanhood and she is becoming painfully aware that her father is not the saint that the commoners of the land believe him to be. At the same time, she is awakened to her own sexuality by a dashing and mysterious young man - Sasha. The strain of the war with Germany, the hemophelia of the heir, the hunger and despair of the peasantry, and the desparate attempts of the royal (extended) family to maintain the power and wealth of the monarchy were the tinder just ready to explode when the matchstick that was Rasputin set the country ablaze in revolution. Wow! Historical fiction makes the most fascinating reading!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. Perhaps my third time to read this work of fantasy/science fiction/religious alegory and every reading gives me more to think about. This book is a classic among children's literature, although many have argued that children cannot possibly understand all that L'Engle has wrapped into this story. Probably so, but then the same must be said of many other well-written books marked as 'children's literature'. The simple inclusion of a young protagonist should not mean that the book is not worthy of an adult audience! What do you think?

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