Midnight in St Petersburg

Written by Vanora Bennett
Review by Ann Northfield

Set during the convulsions and upheavals of revolutionary Russia, this novel is centred around Inna Feldman, who decides to flee Kiev after witnessing the assassination of Prime Minister Stolypin in a theatre. As a Jew in this time period, her position is made even more vulnerable by the atmosphere of fear and racial hatred. Inna goes to St Petersburg to a distant relative, Yasha Kagar, in search of safety and security; he is to become of the two loves she is torn between. Yasha is a violin-maker who is filled with revolutionary fervour. The other man who will feature in this love triangle is the Englishman Horace Wallich, who works for the famous jeweller Fabergé. This character is inspired by and based on the author’s own great-uncle, which adds a personal twist to the novel. The depiction of the turmoils of Russia is convincing, and the author keeps the reader guessing to the end as to which direction and which man Inna will finally select. There are real-life characters such as Rasputin and Prince Youssoupoff, which adds a feeling of even greater authenticity. The character of Inna is not always entirely likeable but perhaps is more realistic for that very reason. The novel is steeped in its time period and is well-researched. It is quite slow-moving and character-driven. Those seeking high action will be disappointed, but lovers of this time period and of romance should be content.