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Book Review – The Mirrored World by Debra Dean

Synopsis:  The critically acclaimed author of The Madonnas of Leningrad (“Elegant and poetic, the rare kind of book that you want to keep but you have to share” —Isabel Allende), Debra Dean returns with The Mirrored World, a breathtaking novel of love and madness set in 18th century Russia. Transporting readers to St. Petersburg during the reign of Catherine the Great, Dean brilliantly reconstructs and reimagines the life of St. Xenia, one of Russia’s most revered and mysterious holy figures, in a richly told and thought-provoking work of historical fiction that recounts the unlikely transformation of a young girl, a child of privilege, into a saint beloved by the poor.

First Line:  Yes, this was her house many years ago, when she was still Xenia.

Random Quote:  Of all Xenia’s former pleasures, only hymns that were sung in church still soothed her.  You might not think it to see her – she would listen with water coursing down her cheeks – but no, she said, the music was a relief.


Icon of St. Xenia
of St. Petersburg
Helping to Build a Church
(image source)

Review:  Xenia is Russia’s most-beloved saint.  She lived in the 18th century, beginning as a woman of influence and privilege and then giving away everything after her husband’s death to help the poor.  Her family was shocked to see her living in the slums and Catherine the Great considered her a threat.

Told through the eyes of Xenia’s cousin, Dasha, this is a story of Catherine the Great’s court and of all of the people outside looking in.  Through Dasha’s frank clear voice, Xenia stops being a figure on an icon and becomes an actual person whose sainthood is understood within the context of her history.  Aren’t we all the sum of our choices and of our history – guided this way and that, sometimes by choice, sometimes by chance.  Xenia’s life in many ways illustrates the fact that life can go almost anywhere – anything can happen.  It’s a magical tale told well.

FTC Disclosure:  Advance copy for review for the author’s TLC Book Tour

Publishing Information:  Harper Collins – August 28, 2012

Format:  Hardback

Rating:  ★★★

I’m pleased to be a part of the author’s virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours.  Be sure to visit the other sites on the tour for all kinds of opinion and thought about this book.

Debra Dean


About Debra Dean

Debra Dean’s bestselling debut novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a #1 Booksense Pick, a Booklist Top Ten Novel, and an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year. It has been published in twenty languages. Her collection of short stories,Confessions of a Falling Woman, won the Paterson Fiction Prize and a Florida Book Award.
Her new novel, The Mirrored World, will be released August 2012.
A native of Seattle, she lives in Miami and teaches at Florida International University.
Connect with Debra on Facebook.

Debra’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 28th: Historical Tapestry – “Why I Love …” Guest Post
Wednesday, August 29th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Thursday, August 30th: Unabridged Chick
Monday, September 3rd: Lit and Life
Wednesday, September 5th: Diary of an Eccentric
Thursday, September 6th: Booktalk & More
Monday, September 10th: The Book Garden
Wednesday, September 12th: Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, September 13th: Man of La Book
Thursday, September 13th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, September 17th: BookNAround
Tuesday, September 18th: Twisting the Lens
Wednesday, September 19th: A Library of My Own
Thursday, September 20th: The Written World
Monday, September 24th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, September 25th: West Metro Mommy
Wednesday, September 26th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, September 27th: Raging Bibliomania
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