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The Last Russian Doll

by Kristen Loesch

The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch X
The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch
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There are currently 27 member reviews
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  • Carol P. (Leland, NC)
    Russia- a story of loss, love and redemption
    I enjoyed the dual timelines following Tonya through the Russian Revolution and Rosie whose family emigrated to London. The description of the Russian Revolution, starvation during the German invasion of Russia in WWII and Stalin from the perspective of Tonya and families who survived were gut wrenching. Then there is Rosie living in England who travels back to Russia with a Russian historian to uncovers clues about her family. The story follows both women through traumatic times. I found the many characters at times difficult to follow in the journeys of both Tonya and Rosie.

    If you enjoy historical fiction and a focus on Russian history you will enjoy. This would be a good discussion book for book clubs
  • Marganna K. (Edmonds, WA)
    Story Fell Short
    This book did not work for me.Since there are many reviews detailing the synopsis of the story line I'll focus on what I consider the book's strengths & weaknesses.

    The writing, at times, was enjoyable informative with descriptions of people, places, ideas well thought out. The idea of writing a story involving Russian history was fascinating & intriguing. Using two time period main characters to carry the story gives interest & is a form of writing I admire.

    The first part of the story was slow - it took awhile to hold my attention, but I wanted to give it time to develop. The middle part of the story held the most interest to me with the main characters "becoming real" and clearly moving the story in an interesting way. From about 2/3 to the end, the book declined & I could not wait until the last page. The story jumped back & forth so quickly, bringing more & more threads & crossovers. The story seemed forced & lost its impact.

    A book is what it is & I rarely say "if only" the author had done this or that - it's written as the author wanted it. That being said I would have certainly enjoyed more details of the various periods, the wars, the revolutions, how these all impacted the people and most definitely more on the dolls. The tangle of people overwhelmed the "historical fiction" that I wished for in this book. At one point in the story, I was considering a re-read just for the history so I could research it, but that part of interest soon was lost.
  • Irene H. (Saugerties, NY)
    The Last Russian Doll
    The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch has the potential to be an exciting trip through Russian history via the life stories of its characters. Their stories evolve during the turbulent years between the Bolshevik Revolution and the era of Glasnost.

    Unfortunately, this potential is not realized due to the complex interweaving of multiple plot lines by the author. Each chapter begins with a Russian folk tale. The tale's meaning is not embedded in the subsequent text, nor is it mirrored by the actions of the characters in the chapter that follows. It is not until the author explains their purpose in an addendum to the novel that we get a sense of why they were included at all.

    Rosie, or Raisa, the main character, is searching for her identity, love, her father, and the meaning of her mother's strange doll collection. The result is an often confusing plot line with intersections of time and character which leave the reader struggling to discover who is doing what with whom.
    As for the Russian history within which the plot progresses, I found that in order to make sense of its effect on the country and the characters, the reader needed much more information than was embedded in the text. The killing of the Czar and his family, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Siege of Leningrad, Stalin's corruption of the Revolution, and the period known as Glasnost were only briefly visited and barely explained.

    Were I the editor, I would ask the author to simplify the plot and either focus her theme on the role of fable and superstition in the lives of the Russian people, or, clarify and extend the historical detail as it impacts on the character's choices and actions, or, concentrate on Rosie/Raisa's search for her identity.

    The Last Russian Doll is not a book I would recommend either to the individual reader, or to Book Clubs.
  • Christine B. (Lilydale, MN)
    Dolls in Pieces
    I only gave this book a 3 because I thought it was terribly disjointed. The sprawling love story between Valentin and Tonya never quite gelled. This novel takes place between 1919 and 1991 alternating between three generations of women in Russia and the US. All the women have witnessed murders and have siblings that seem to be added without the reader realizing it. The reader does not find out until the end that there were two doll makers- Alexey and his brother Eduard. I also did not realize that Kadya's brother Mischa was the Mikhail that was Viktoria's son-in-law. This book definitely needs a list of characters in the beginning that can be used for reference. I read this book twice and still found it confusing. The only reason it might be good for book clubs is that you would have a group to dissect it and perhaps make sense of it. It is impossible to give a review of this book without discussing the convoluted plot and characters eg Lena, Dmitry, Natalya,, Kukola, Rosie and Lev to name a few. Using the dolls as clues was a unique twist, but too little to save the book.
  • Joane W. (Berlin, MD)
    The Last Russian Doll
    I love generational stories especially when they are in an historical setting and go through different time periods.I had a problem with the development of the characters which I found confusing sometimes.The best part of the book was the amazing history of Russia.
  • Susan B. (Fort Myers, FL)
    Russian History thru the eyes of dolls
    The Last Russian Doll is an epic look at what Russia was like from 1917 to present. It is told from different characters who lived and are living this history. I found the book attempted too much and at times it was hard to follow the story line. Development of the characters at times left many questions. I learned a lot about Russian history and its impact on the general population but it never drove me to hurry up and finish the book.

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