A Cherry Blossom in Winter
Russia in the early 1900s is a nation beginning to unravel because of corruption and rebellion. Those in Tsar Nicholas II’s regime pride themselves on unmitigated power. Infidelity and secrets are rife in the highest echelons. As soon as truth emerges, arrangements for new relationships quickly follow, and deaths are assigned as easily.
Alexei Brusilov, the son of a Russian ambassador, accompanies his father to a reception, where Alexei meets and instantly falls in love with a Japanese girl, Kimi-san. Her father is an important Japanese war hero, and her brother is about to become a naval commander in the Russo-Japanese War. Alexei seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in most of the scenes within this story. His best friend is a Socialist yearning for revolution and willing to risk his freedom and his Russian Naval Academy career. Alexei travels to Japan, where he again encounters Kimi but is told she will never be his as he is a gaijin, or foreign enemy. The Russo-Japanese War places him and his best friend Sergei in danger of Boris, the man who holds Alexei responsible for the death of his beloved Svetlana. The remainder of the war is a harsh commentary on the deplorable conditions of the Russian navy, and the twists and turns conspiring to end the life of Alexei and his friend.
Hope and promises will be fulfilled, but at a phenomenal cost for Alexei and Russia. Obviously well-researched, A Cherry Blossom in Winter is a harsh but endearing read that holds the reader’s consistent attention. Love in the midst of revolution: how riveting is that? Engaging, highly recommended historical fiction.