Genre: Partly historical | partly contemporary
Goodreads rating: 3.49
My rating: ★★★
(roughly translated from the back of the book)
A young historian has been fascinated with the last Russian tsar’s family, the Romanovs, for years, until this fascination becomes so oppressive that he gets rid of all his books about the subject.
A few years later he is asked to write a piece about the Romanovs. Doing so, he does a breathtaking discovery, that doesn’t only revive his long-held sense of kinship with the tsar’s family, but also ‘pushes to euforic high’ (I’m sorry, I hardly get this part of the sentence in Dutch, so I have no idea if it makes sense in English).
As I’ve said before, I read this for school. This year, we have to read four books surrounding a theme. Mine is ‘back in time’. Russisch Blauw (Russian Blue) doesn’t entirely take place in the past: about half takes place in 1995 and tells the story of Lex Grol, the obsessed historian who daydreams about the Romanov family, which takes us to the other half around 1917/1918. The book switches between Lex his story, which I couldn’t care less about, and the story of the Romanovs. Yes, the flashbacks aren’t exactly flashbacks as they’re the fantasies of Lex, but they are based on facts. It’s just that Lex romantices them.
If it hadn’t been for these flashbacks, I wouldn’t have given this book three stars. I would’ve even given it a higher rating if Peper (Peper means pepper in Dutch, so it’s like I’m talking about a writing pepper, haha) left out Lex and just wrote about the Romanovs instead. Her language in these paragraphs was beautiful and it was far more interesting than Lex swimming in the pool.
When I first started reading this book, I thought ‘oh no, here we go again’. I’ve had to read books that are considered ‘Dutch literature’ before, and I didn’t like any of them. Either I didn’t like the writing style, the plot was boring or it was just gross. God, the last book I read last year was pretty much 99 percent sex. There was a plot, but apparently the sex was more important. It was even more disturbing since the author and the protagonist shared the same name. If you want to write about your fantasy love life, please do so in your journal.
So I thougt ‘here we go again’, since the first pages were really boring. Then the first paragraph about the Romanovs appeared and I was hooked. Whenever I read about Lex, I just couldn’t wait to get back to the tsar and his family.
I don’t know if this book has been translated into other languages, but if you speak Dutch and want to read some Dutch literature, I recommend this one. Obviously I haven’t read all the literature written in my country, but if I have to recommend something, it’d be this book. I wasn’t going to review this at first (mainly because I first thought it was just so boring and that would be my review: ‘it’s boring, never going to read it again. – The Writing Hufflepuff), but it also a good exercise to prepare for my oral exam in March. That’s still some time away and since I’ll have read three more other books, I thought this’d be a good way to remember what I liked and disliked about this book.
Ps. The book smells really nice. At first that was the only thing I liked about it: ”Ugh, I have to read Russisch Blauw again today. At least it smells good.”
Pps. Falling for Autumn read-a-thon starts tomorrow! I’m so excited!
– The Writing Hufflepuff