The Midwife of St. Petersburg
This story takes place amidst the turmoil of 1914 Czarist Russia. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Serbia has recently been assassinated, and war is imminent. Karena Peshkov is the daughter of a Jewish midwife and a Russian Orthodox Christian wheat farmer near Kiev. Karena isn’t sure if she’s a Jew or a Russian Orthodox Christian. She has worked alongside her mother and desperately wants to attend the medical school in St. Petersburg, but due to a quota for Jewish applicants, has been turned down twice. Karena has also been helping her uncle, a professor, who is writing a book on the Jewish Messianic texts.
While on a visit to wealthy relatives in St. Petersburg, she meets and is attracted to the dashing Cossac commander Colonel Aleksandr Kronstadt, who is all but engaged to her cousin Tatiana. Kronstadt has been assigned to the Okhrana, the Russian secret police. When Karena’s brother’s Bolshevik activities plunge the family into danger, Kronstadt comes to their aid.
While I enjoyed the setting of this story, there were too many plot lines that weren’t fully developed. Karena’s conversion to Christianity is especially unconvincing.