Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison
A Novel

52%

23 Critic Reviews

Harrison has evoked a world awash in red; yet her novel, so dependent on her narrator's voice, is disappointingly anemic.
-NPR

Synopsis

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

“Part love story, part history, this novel is a tour de force [told] in language that soars and sears.”—More
 
St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to her son, the headstrong prince Alyosha, who suffers from hemophilia. Soon after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and the Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha find solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, and to distract the prince from the pain she cannot heal, Masha tells him stories—some embellished and others entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s exploits, and their wild and wonderful country, now on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand.
 
Praise for Enchantments

“A sumptuous, atmospheric account of the last days of the Romanovs from the perspective of Rasputin’s daughter, [told] with the sensuous, transporting prose that is Kathryn Harrison’s trademark.”—Jennifer Egan
 
“[A] splendid and surprising book . . . Harrison has given us something enduring.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“[Harrison delivers] this oft-told moment with shocking freshness. . . . Masha re-invents our ideas of Rasputin, and the world of Nicholas and Alexandra is imbued with a glow whose fierceness is governed by the imminence of its loss.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“A mesmerizing novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“Bewitching . . . Harrison sets historic facts like jewels in this intricately fashioned work of exalted empathy and imagination, a literary Fabergé egg. . . . [A] dazzling return to historical fiction.”—Booklist (starred review)

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 

About Kathryn Harrison

See more books from this Author
Kathryn Harrison has written the novels Thicker Than Water, Exposure, Poison, The Binding Chair, The Seal Wife, and Envy. Her autobiographical work includes The Kiss, Seeking Rapture, The Road to Santiago, and The Mother Knot. She has also written a biography, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and, most recently, a book of true crime, While They Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family. She lives in New York with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison, and their three children.
 
Published March 6, 2012 by Random House. 354 pages
Genres: Romance, History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Enchantments
All: 23 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 12

Kirkus

Below average
Reviewed by Kirkus' Reviews on Jan 15 2012

Harrison’s rococo prose fits her subject matter, but she adds little to Romanov lore while Rasputin’s story, written at arm’s length, never comes to life.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Gillian Slovo on Jun 01 2012

...an engaging novel that distracts and entertains just as Masha intends her stories to do.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Susann Cokal on Mar 09 2012

...Kathryn Harrison has given us something enduring — the last romantic figure of the era, a whip-cracking circus girl who was once an intimate part of a dying empire.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Mar 14 2012

Harrison has evoked a world awash in red; yet her novel, so dependent on her narrator's voice, is disappointingly anemic.

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Book Reporter

Below average
Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on Mar 08 2012

You can’t really think of this book as traditional with a beginning, middle and end, but if you take each chapter as a story of its own, it’s an intriguing book.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Richard Rayner on Mar 25 2012

 Harrison found all the ingredients for a perfect stew.

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USA Today

Below average
Reviewed by Charles Finch on Mar 11 2012

This is a static premise, and there is not much momentum in the early stages of the book.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by S. Kirk Walsh on Mar 25 2012

Despite the tragedy and brutality of this story, Harrison manages to bring an authentic innocence to this often-written-about period of Russian history through the refreshing perspective of Masha.

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Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Jerome Charyn on Sep 06 2012

In Enchantments, Kathryn Harrison’s beautifully sculpted seventh novel, we meet Rasputin, but only after he is dead.

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NJ.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Kathleen Daley on Mar 25 2012

But while the dream of Romanov survival may be dead, Kathryn Harrison has given us something enduring — the last romantic figure of the era, a whip-cracking circus girl who was once an intimate part of a dying empire.

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For Books' Sake

Below average
Reviewed by Tara Hanks on Mar 29 2012

The Tsar and his family were isolated figures, and there is a lingering unreality about them which Harrison cannot quite penetrate; her surreal, satirical touches are finally weighed down by the simple pathos of her tale.

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Luxury Reading

Below average
Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen on Mar 12 2012

Aside from finding this a tedious and boring book, I was disgusted by some very descriptive sexual situations that occurred between Masha and Alyosha.

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Book Loons

Good
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Enchantments is an enchanting tale of the Romanovs' last days from the point of view of Rasputin's daughter and the doomed young tsarevich - it will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Abby Plesser

Much has been written about Rasputin and the Romanovs, but Harrison brings her unique narrative perspective to Enchantments, re-imagining history--and a love story--in a completely new way.

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Chaotic Compendiums

Below average
Reviewed by Caitlin Martin on Mar 06 2012

If you're looking for straight historical fiction that sticks with the accepted facts and agreed upon story, this is not the book for you.  

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The Lostent Wife

Below average
Reviewed by Lydia on Mar 15 2012

 I think what it boiled down to was there were too many shifts, shifts of perspective/stories/time periods. 

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Stiletto Storytime

Good
Reviewed by Courtney (Stiletto Storytime) on Mar 24 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed the book from both a fictional and historical stand point. 

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Life in Review

Below average
Reviewed by Michelle V. on Mar 29 2012

I am merely trying to let readers know that if you prefer a really simple read, then this may not be your type of book.

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Col Reads

Below average
Reviewed by C Connolly-Ahern on Mar 28 2012

I loved Masha’s voice, but unfortunately the disjointed, asynchronous narrative was not as successful for me. 

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Let Them Read Books

Below average
Reviewed by Jenny Q. on Mar 19 2012

It's all quite interesting, but her narrative jumps back and forth in time so much, and somewhat randomly, so that the story feels loose and disjointed, and I think it also contributed to my feeling of not really getting to know Masha.

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Dorolerium

Good
Reviewed by dorolerium on Mar 23 2012

Although this is an emotionally charged one, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, particularly set in Russia during this time.

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Muse In The Fog

Below average
Reviewed by Svea on Mar 23 2012

The novel is told solely from Masha's point of view, but there is a bit of time jumping due to her various stories, which does lead to some confusing moments.

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Books on Beech Wood

Good
Reviewed by Anne McDougall on Mar 16 2012

Harrison is skilled at creating a vivid, imaginary world, based on historic fact.

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Reader Rating for Enchantments
65%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 171 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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