At first, their home remains untouched by outside events, and the familiar ways continue. But imperial Russia is doomed, and with it, all the old certainties. Trapped by the snow with Doig and Elizaveta are a motley collection of old aristocrats and two soldiers seeking refuge, one of whom, Doig fears, is a Bolshevik out to destroy them all.
"Crackling, flamboyant, funny, sad, and magical." (Publishers Weekly)
"A historical novel with the right kind of hero: virile, ruthless, adventurous." (Independent, London)
"The action sequences virtually sing with energy, and the novel's blistering pace never lets up for a moment." (Kirkus Reviews)
White Blood chronicles the life of Charlie Doig, an Anglo-Russian, from pre-WWI times up to the abdication of the Tsar in 1917 and the turmoil of the ensuing (first) revolution.
The first half of the book establishes the Doig character as a naturalist in far flung places of the globe, chronicling his influences; the second is the much more immediate drama of his marriage in the swirling events of wartime, pre-revolution Russia which ends when the revolution finally intrudes upon the idyllic life of his "White" Russian aristocratic heritage.
As a character study which shines light on this period, from the point of view of the privileged class, the book is insightful and persuasive. Fleming captures the paternalistic, noblesse oblige -- and hollow -- Russian aristocracy well, of which Doig is a member. My problem is that the two parts don't seem to blend very well, making the overall effort disjointed.
I tried to determine if the characters in the book were allegories for the different forces in play in revolutionary Russia. Apart from the obvious, I didn't get the sense this ran very deep. Ultimately, the book is a character study.
That being said, White Blood is well written and richly narrated. If you have an interest in the period, from the less-told point of view of the Whites not the Reds, you will find it interesting. I would have given it 3.5 stars if that had been an option.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
There's a credit I can't get back. The summary sounded interesting, but as I was listening to it I just kept thinking about other things. My to do list for the day, work stuff, etc. It was like someone giving an endless speech droning on, and on and I'm just waiting for it to end. I didn't finish it, I got through the first part of the book and haven't touched it since. I had hopes this would be interesting, boy was I wrong.