Alexandra Lapierre comes to the blog with a story of surviving amidst great odds in
The Woman of a Thousand Names
Maria Ignatyevna Zakrevskaya was born into the upper reaches of Russian Society, and determined to survive. A facile mind and a moral code that allowed her to work the ebbs and flows of power and danger, she held strong to the recite the words, never name the source motto. Why should we be interested in this woman who allied herself with what, at the time, was the dissolution of her social class in the October Revolution. Well, she was also known as Mata Hari, spoke 3 languages at the age of 6, more by her death, honed her skills in negotiation as she worked between her mother and sisters, married in Germany and introduced to the ‘elites’ there, while seeing her husband denounce the Tsar as ‘too liberal’, while allowing her the freedom to do as she pleases, this is a woman who collected experience, knowledge, and perhaps even a bit of courage, for at the time women were simply not thought to be bright or political.
With the advent of war (both WW1 and WWII) her loyalties are divided, while her heart and information seemed to lie with her native land. An affair with a British diplomat brought her into the clandestine worlds of espionage, and she was frequently working as a ‘double agent”- serving both Britain and Russia with information key to the war effort. Her fluency with language and her ability to remember facts, faces and information kept her well-placed with information and never quite seemed to (as it is told) disturb her moral compass. She was interrogated and while divulging (again we are told) simple facts, quotes and information, never named anyone, even as the distinctions are small.
The story is more a play of vacillating and always adjusting morals while finding one moment or tenet to stand as irrefutable. With several years, more lovers, and plenty of time – there was information that was included that I think could have been left out: adding much in page count but little to the overall impact. While this woman was undoubtedly intelligent and charming (as evidenced by the contacts she made and maintained) there is still a bit of a cloud around her that kept her ‘true self’ and thoughts about the roles she played, often contradictory and usually laden with casualties from all sides was missing – fictionalized ideas of what she ‘may’ have thought at the time are intriguing though, and had me wondering just what would have spurred such choices, especially as that core question of her personality ‘quirks’ never truly came to light.
Title: The Woman of a Thousand Names
Author: Alexandra Lapierre
Genre: Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction /Historical Setting
Published by: Atria Books
Published on: 30 March, 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 21 Hours: 30 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
From the international bestselling author of the “fascinating epic” (Associated Press) Between Love and Honor comes a rich, sweeping tale based on the captivating true story of the Mata Hari of Russia, featuring a beautiful aristocrat fighting for survival during the deadly upheaval of the Russian Revolution.
Born into Russian aristocracy, wealth, and security, Moura never had any reason to worry. But in the upheaval of the Bolshevik Revolution, her entire world crumbles. As her family and friends are being persecuted by Vladimir Lenin’s ruthless police, she falls into a passionate affair with British secret agent Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart. But when he’s abruptly and mysteriously deported from Russia, Moura is left alone and vulnerable.
Now, she must find new paths for her survival, even if it means shedding her past and taking on new identities. Some will praise her tenderness and undying loyalty. Others will denounce her lies. But all will agree on one point: Moura embodies Life. Life at all cost.
Set against the volatile landscape of 20th-century Russia, The Woman of a Thousand Names brings history to vivid life in a captivating tale about an extraordinary woman caught in the waves of change—with only her wits to save her.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.