SCENT OF BUTTERFLIES
“In her latest, Mossanen (The Last Romanov, 2012) examines what happens when one woman’s predictable routine, treasured relationships, and sense of self have all been shattered. Soraya’s enduring love of the natural world lets Mossanen sprinkle the scientific names of many plants and insects throughout the text, which mix appealingly with the often dreamy and lyrical narration. Fans of Elizabeth Gilbert and Kristin Hannah will appreciate Soraya’s story as Scent of Butterflies sets betrayal, forgiveness, identity, and obsession against the tumultuous landscapes of post-shah Iran and Southern California.”
— Stephanie Turza, Booklist
“Politics and history play a small part in this tale, the real story here is of friendship, betrayal, and insanity fostered in those gated mansions, lush with the scent of spice and flowers.”
— Publishers Weekly
THE LAST ROMANOV
“A master storyteller works her powerful magic yet again…Like the bestsellers “Harem” and “Courtesan,” Mossanen’s latest novel is deeply rooted in an exotic time and place, ornamented with the observed detail that comes from her exhaustive but discerning research, suffused with authentic historical drama, and populated with irresistible men and women who come fully alive on the page, all of which are her trademarks as a novelist. For those of us who have been waiting for Mossanen’s next book with pleasure and anticipation, our patience has now been rewarded.”
— Jonathan Kirsch, Book Editor, Jewish Journal
Mossanen has a gift for bringing the atmosphere of an era to readers in a mystical, lyrical manner that quietly sweeps the readers away. Building on the mystery surrounding the execution of the Russian royal family, she has created an unforgettable cast of characters, including the beautiful old woman who believes she has uncovered the last Romanov. Her journey, told in poetic prose, is one of redemption and magic, glory, suffering and passion. Truly an intriguing read. —4 Stars
— Kathe Robin, Romantic Times
“It is 1991 and Darya Borodina Spiridova is 104 years old. The world of imperial Russia—and the finest days of her life—are long gone. Then a letter from the Russian Nobility Association, a persistent circle of monarchists, arrives at her dilapidated Russian palace, summoning her to a meeting where they propose to fill the void left by communism by reinstating the monarchy. Darya is plunged back into her life in the Romanov court, where she was aunt to czarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, heir apparent to the throne of Russia, who she believes survived and for whom she has spent her life searching. Now, with the Romanov grave discovered sans Alexei’s remains, she must travel to meet a claimant to the throne, whom she believes to be her beloved Alexei. However, her host, Grand Duchess Sophia Sheremetev, demands to hear the story of her opulent youth in the Russian court and its subsequent collapse, before revealing the identity of the possible heir. Through this last act of memory, Darya purges her survivor guilt and regret over her lost family and the long life she has spent trying to find Alexei. Mossanen’s magical tale recasts familiar material in a modern light and injects pathos into a historic tragedy. Agent: Anna Ghosh, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (Apr.)”
— Publishers Weekly
“The story of the Romanovs has been one that draws fascination and rumors. From the possible life of Anastasia, to their colorful yet brutal history, the stories fade in and out of history. Many remain fascinated even now with this Royal family of Imperial Russia.
In The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen, we learn more about the years and treachery, the color and pageantry, and the sadness and despair of this family that continues to bring questions and still holds many enthralled. With a deft pen and a deep and interesting look into the history following the family, Mossanen takes you back in time, building a story of love and passion, with a twist of belief and a bit of myth. I have never really understood the fascination with the imperial family of Russia, yet I now find myself just as interested and wondering as the most adept of seekers. How did all this happen? Did the Romanovs really just not understand the seriousness of the times, or was the advice they received not reliable?
Mossanen has given us the character of Darya, through whose eyes we view the mysteries and enchantments of the times. As caregiver to Alexei, she puts her charge above everything else in her life including that of her love. After the fall of the Romanovs, she is still convinced her Alexei has survived against all odds, and she makes it her life’s work to find the heir to the Russian throne and return royal blood to an imperial Russia.
The characters are an amazing array, with the Royal family themselves, the mysterious Rasputin, and then there is Darya, an enigma who is full of passion, and just a bit of danger and magic. The descriptions and story are moving and exciting, and yet forlorn and sad. The action is thrilling and yet horrifying. A real history tied in with myth and mystery, it is hard to find a time to put the book down. You will find yourself enthralled with the history of a family that just did not seem to see beyond themselves or understand the hysteria of the time. Their lives continue to evoke interest, and their deaths to create questions. Many questions seem to remain unanswered and open to interpretation even today.
Darya is a character full of mystery herself and fits well within the parameters of the differences evinced within the family. She is mysterious and beautiful and yet shrouded in mystery. Her life wends throughout the story adding a darkness and mythical cadence, a richness just a bit more sublime. The love and care of the family and all who are a part is heartfelt and creates a genuine feel that makes you long to know more.
I would recommend this book to the history buff or the fantasy fan. If you enjoy romance, intrigue, history and a bit of fantasy, this is the work that will take you there. With an eye to detail and a strong bit of history, you will be sucked into a story that holds you to the finish.
This would be a great book for a reading club or discussion group. The history is real, and the characters are true to life and quite imperial. This is a must have for your library.”
— By Leslie Wright, BLOGCRITICS.ORG
“Mossanen’s sweeping novel focuses on the life and memories of Darya Borodina Spiridova, a Russian orphan brought into the fold of the imperial family. Serving as a caretaker for the young czar Nicholas, she witnessed the height of the Romanov dynasty and the tragedy that befell the family at the hands of the dastardly Rasputin. Now as an old woman, she is tasked with the opportunity to find the lost heir to the Romanov throne and bring prosperity back to the troubled nation. With a plot that ranges from the early twentieth century to the years of perestroika and glasnost, The Last Romanov is an ambitious work. Mossanen peppers her prose with detailed images of palatial opulence and aristocratic indulgence, and the mystical, imaginative plot is grounded in historical fact. A story of redemption, history, and aristocratic intrigue, the novel is reminiscent of Gregory Maguire’s and Robin Maxwell’s work. For historical fiction fans and lovers of the mysterious days of the Romanov empire, this is an indulgent, romantic, and impassioned read.”
— Stephanie Turza, Booklist
“We know Tsarina Alexandra’s lady-in-waiting was with the Romanov family at the time of their assassination in 1918. Mossanen has used this historical verity in her astounding novel. We learn more particulars on the life and times of the “Last Romanov,” Tsarevich Alexei, through the eyes of his Tyotia Dasha — beloved “aunt,” Darya, who was (in this fictional version) also among the ill-fated group, but who survived the massacre.
In 1991, the 104-year old Darya, still living in a dilapidated manor in Ekaterinburg, receives a note from a secret Russian Nobility Association. She’s summoned to an estate, in Crimea, to verify the identity of a man claiming to be the Tsarevich Alexei.
Darya, born with an opal-eye, possesses a healing touch. She’s also assisted by the magical powers of a Faberge egg necklace and the scent of a piece of ambergris inside it. The mythical potency of the ambergris — found along the Crimean coast — features prominently throughout the novel.
The Tsarina brings up Dasha, upon the death of her parents. She becomes the governess to the sick Tsarevich. Yet, since she’s not able to treat Alexei of his haemophilic bleedings, they have to call in the indomitable monk Rasputin, who manages to heal him, at least temporarily. While Dayra devotes her full time attention on the Tsarevich, she also has a secret paramour, a Jewish artist. Through him, we learn of the hideous prosecution of the Russian Jews during that period…the story is so compelling that readers will follow Darya into the Crimean mansion, as if to watch the concluding episode of yet another movie on the Romanovs.”
—The Historical Novel Society
“For almost a century, Imperial Russia has captivated the imagination— the ruthless execution of the royal family, the disputed survival of the heir: it’s a cinematic chaos that the masterful Dora Levy Mossanen unravels for her readers. Taking readers deep into tarnished grandeur, The Last Romanov follows Darya, a wise old beauty whose time spent with the Imperial family has haunted her entire life. When the murderous events unfold, Darya is plagued by the prophecy made by the Empress’s advisor, Rasputin. She must find the missing Tsarevich Alexis Romanov and restore the monarchy or risk losing her own life.
What could happen in today’s Russia if there had been a surviving member of the Romanov family? This is the question that Dora Levy Mossanen asks in The Last Romanov. She takes you through the last years of the Imperial Couple’s rule, up to the moment of their execution… and possible survival of the teenaged Tsarevich, Alexis Romanov. Prepare yourself for one wild ride through history as Darya tells her tale and makes her search for the missing Tsarevich!
Darya believes it’s her divine destiny to guard and protect the young Tsarevich Alexis Romanov from everything that might possibly oppose his eventual ascension to the Imperial throne of Russia. She’s so focused on her duty to the royal family that she often sacrifices things important to her for their benefit. While this is an honorable and often required trait in a member of the royal household, it also shows a single-mindedness that might not always make for a good companion, either. She lets her care of, and eventual search for, Alexis Romanov consume the remainder of her life. Darya is, on the other hand, a loyal and caring caretaker to Alexis as well as a devout and dedicated soul.
Darya’s one distraction from the young Tsarevich and the Imperial Family is her one true love, Avram. Their romance is fiery and passionate, made even more so by the fact that he is a forbidden Jew. For someone of her standing to be involved with a commoner was unheard of at that time, but for this commoner to also be a Jew? It was pure scandal. Darya and Avram do not let this come between them, however, showing both grace and the strength of true love to overcome all obstacles. The way the keep finding one another, despite the odds and political crisis of the time, is both magical and hope for us all.
However, despite Darya’s complete obsession with the young Tsarevich and what became of him, her story is one of the most interesting I’ve read in a long time. This era of history, and the Romanov family itself, has long been a curiosity of mine. To find such an imaginative and intriguing story set during this time and involving this family was a happy surprise for me. Filled with both wild and the more sedate historical characters plus just a touch of the mystical, The Last Romanov brings magic and history together in a spectacular way.
The Last Romanov is a wonderfully well-written read for any lover of history or even just someone who believes in the impossible.”
—Long and Short Reviews
“Mossanen has a gift for bringing the atmosphere of an era to readers in a mystical, lyrical manner that quietly sweeps the readers away. Building on the mystery surrounding the execution of the Russian royal family, she has created an unforgettable cast of characters, including the beautiful old woman who believes she has uncovered the last Romanov. Her journey, told in poetic prose, is one of redemption and magic, glory, suffering and passion. Truly an intriguing read.” —4 Stars
— Kathe Robin, Romantic Times
“In 1887 she was born an orphan in an ancient forest near the Romanov Palace. Still alive in 1991, Darya Borodina Spiridova has seen so much change in her hundred and four years especially in beloved Russia. She remembers how the Royal family adopted her as one of them and their advisor Rasputin the “Mad Monk” proclaiming she will be the cause of the Romanov downfall due to her paranormal gift granted by the Ancient One. Seeking redemption, Darya believes that can only come if she locates the long lost Last Romanov. On her journey for salvation, she looks deeply into her past focusing on her role when the Revolution and subsequent executions happened.
This is a great tale that provides the audience with a deep look at the end of the Romanovs though the quest of a centenarian as the Soviet Union disintegrates. Engaging from the moment readers meet Darya, Dora Levy Mossanen writes a wonderful mystical historical as the road to redemption has plenty of detours and roadblocks; many of which are created within one’s mind.”
—Harriet Klausner, Go Round Reviews
“The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen is the newest historical fiction title to catch my eye that re-imagines what happened in the lavish palaces of the Romanovs during their last few years in a Russia filled with political turmoil. Mossanen’s fictional character Darya is the caretaker of the youngest–and only–male heir, Alexei. She is brought into the palace because her opal eye is said to give her powers of healing, but even she is unable to heal the hemophiliac prince.
For years after the terrible tragedy, Darya blames herself for the deaths of her beloved Romanov family. She feels responsible for bringing the mad monk Rasputin into the lives of the royal family, believing that he can heal the young prince. However, Darya has never failed in her belief that Alexei survived the murders and is still alive somewhere, waiting for her to find him.
The Last Romanov is one of the most descriptive and beautifully written fictional pieces that I have ever read about the Imperial family. I felt as if I had really been transported back to 1917, and the years preceding it. It was obvious to me that Mossanen had meticulously researched Russian history in order to write this novel.
The Last Romanov flips back and forth between Darya’s past and her present, where is she is a 104-year-old woman living in the ruins of the Entertainment Palace, alive and thriving on precious ambergris that keeps her youthful in her old age. Her present is very heartbreaking, and I never felt that the tragedy that befell the Romanovs was her fault. During the passages involving her past, she did find a small amount of happiness with a Jewish artist…
The Last Romanov is not a book that can easily be read in a few hours; this is one that you will want to dedicate your attention to so that you can absorb all of the fine details and really grasp the meaning of Mossanen’s words.”
““The Last Romanov” by Dora Levy Mossanen ~ Fabulous Book Hands Down
So very gorgeously written, so descriptive and rich in history, this book is unbelievably special. I was sunk from the beginning…and I had so much to do this Mother’s Day weekend! Sumptuous writing, so gaudy with lush descriptions of Romanovs, their homes and sycophants that my head was swimming as if I’d drunk too much Massandra wine from one of the Tsar’s seaside estates. I was spun back in time to the Palaces with the little witch Darya Spiridova, nanny/aunt to the precious Tsarevich before he and his family were killed. Or, was he killed with his family? That’s the mystery of “The Last Romanov,” that and what true place did Darya play in the unfolding horror and redemption of the past.
Floating back and forth in time over a span of 80-some years, we are tossed through a magnificent time of war and peace. Dora Levy Mossanen is a tour guide like none other as she finely details all manner of things,lending an authenticity to her story that brings chills of delight to a reader of historical fiction. She is quite painterly in her art of writing. Historical details are impeccable and gave the reading another pleasurable dimension. I was unaware, for instance, but loved finding out, that Empress Alexandra’s favorite fragrance was Rose Blanche.
This book ended for me with a sigh. I had such reluctance to let it go.
I know all of you who love historical fiction will just die for it.
5 luscious stars on a diamond encrusted tray, and a pinch of Ambergris for fragrance!”
— Deborah, The Bookish Dame
“THE LAST ROMANOV by Dora Levy Mossanen is an impressive historical fiction set in Russia. This is the story of the Romanov’s,a Royal family and the orphan left behind. It is written with vivid descriptions and details that brings Imperial Russia,the Royal family and the Romanov’s to life. A story of mystery,redemption,prophecy,myths,a royal family,murder,second changes,magic and tragedy. So sit back and enjoy your journey with “The Last Romanov” you will not regret it and will learn volumes. Ms. Mossanen has a way of drawing the reader into this story as she weaves history with mystery,and magic. I would recommend “The Last Romanov” to anyone who enjoys history,Russian history,fantasy,Empress Alexandra,Anastasia,Tudor fiction,and Russian Royals. A wonderful read for all! Received for an honest review from the publisher. Details can be found at Sourcebooks Landmark,the author’s website,and My Book Addiction and More.”
— April R, My Book Addiction and More
“A Lavish Buffet of Delicious Excess – 5 STARS
The names Romanov, Rasputin, Russia, and revolution are synonymous with political upheaval, warfare, poverty, and prophecy during the first part of the 20th century. For those who are fans of history, mystery, and magic, Author Dora Levy Mossanen’s latest novel, The Last Romanov, is a luxurious romp through the palaces and extravagances of the last Tsar set against the heart-wrenching scarcity of life as a peasant.
Ms. Mossanen weaves together a tapestry of poetic prose that launches the reader on a journey of historical significance and imaginative invention. From the first mention of wild aurochs in the ancient forest to the fluttering butterflies of the opal-eyed Darya with her necklace of perfumed ambergris to the swaying hips of the intoxicating exotic dancer, Jasmine, you will be catapulted into a world of opulence and indulgence where distinguishing facts from fiction is work for detectives.
Brilliantly captured in words, each character is fully developed and presented with authenticity and flair. Great care was taken in researching the royal family, their extravagant lifestyle, their palaces, gardens, friends, and enemies. The manner in which author Dora Mossanen depicted the deep love between the Tsar Nicholas and his German bride coupled with their devotion to their offspring is heart connecting, making one mourn the fate we know is chronicled in history books. Yet, at the same time, we are repelled by the blatant hatred and persecution of the Jews as well as the blindness to the plight of the population at large suffering hunger and thirst while the royals feasted on Beluga caviar and expensive vodka. With the Romanov’s refusal to acknowledge the tumultuous unrest of the populace and their all consuming desire to heal their ailing son at any cost, it is no surprise that the drunken, sex depraved mystic, Rasputin, powered the downfall of their dynasty.
Dora Levy Mossanen is an enchanting and thrilling storyteller. She delivers a rich banquet of love, romance, deceit, despair, denial, myth, and prophecy spiced by the existing evolution of the simmering Bolshevik Revolution. The Last Romanov is a feast of gargantuan proportions, utterly satisfying until the final sentence when you will utter, “More please!””
— Cynthia Brian, LaMorindaWeb.com
“Darya Borodina is one hundred and four years old, living in the old Russian Entertainment Palace among the ruins, haunted by her life and her time with the Romanovs. Born of royal parents who were close friends with the Tsar and Tsarina of Russia, Darya lost her parents as a teen and was brought to live in the royal household. There she became a companion to the royal children, the four Duchesses and the heir apparent. Darya had healing powers which were important since the heir had hemophilia and could die at any moment.We watch royal life through Darya’s eyes. Drawn to the arts, she and the Empress create an artistic salon to showcase the talents of Russia’s sculptors, artists and ballet masters. We see the strife and pain that comes as Russia starts to awake and decide that being ruled by the royal aristocracy will not work. Darya is torn between these two worlds. She is loyal to the royal family, but madly in love with one of the artists, a Jewish painter she knows she can never acknowledge publicly. Through him, she starts to see the turmoil that will soon tear the country apart.After the Revolution and the assassination of the Royal Family, what keeps Darya alive is her belief that the heir was not killed that horrible day with the rest of the family; that her magic portions kept him alive. She spends decades searching for him, and now she receives word that ‘the last Romanov’ has been found. This starts her final journey to determine the truth once and for all.The Last Romanov is a marvelous book. Steeped in history and full of the haunting brooding history of the Russian Empire, the reader is transported to another time and place. Mossanen has created an interesting heroine in Darya to portray both sides of the Revolution and the pain that the conflict between the sides brought to both. This book is recommended to historical fiction readers and those interested in the strong women or Russian history.”
— Sandie , Booksie’s Blog
“Mossanen certainly did her research before undertaking this grand story. Interspersed throughout the fiction are hardcore facts about the Romanov family and their last days. So much in fact, that I was left wondering what was true and was so enthralled with the story that I had to do my own research on the events. The author’s talent for storytelling is so strong that I simply couldn’t get the book out of my head.”
— Jessica Hastings, Suite 101
“Surrounding the basic history of the Romanovs, the author spins a tale of magic, love, supernatural forces, past lives and more to tell another side of what might have been to the history of this majestically royal family.Lovers of fantasy mixed with historical writing will enjoy this one.”
“…this is an engrossing historical drama that blends mystery and memory together to tell a sprawling story…. there is no doubt that the research that went into this book helped create a vast and meticulous world that captures the imagination and lingers long after the pages ceased to turn.”
—The Romance Reviews (TRR)
“”The Last Romanov” is an interesting novel. Mossanen nails it with the historical aspect of the book providing dates, describing historical events, and even capturing how the palaces in Russia were, the type of dress the family wore, and describing even those Faberge eggs. The novel is impeccably researched.”
—The Examiner, Pittsburg
GOOGLE BOOK REVIEWS
Jan 16, 12
This book was an unusual read for me but I was interested because I have always been fascinated by the Romanov’s. The books is interesting…even a little well weird at times but the story was engaging and you wanted to know what happens. The author writes quite differently from many others and it leads to an intriguing story.
Jan 13, 12
Like its heroine’s inexplicable opal eye, THE LAST ROMANOV by Dora Levy Mossanen shimmers with tantalizing mystery and brilliance. Readers will delight in sharing the journey of the bold and self-possessed Darya through the corridors of the Russian Imperial palace during the final days of the Tsar’s reign as she cares for the young and sickly heir, finds herself the beloved muse of a celebrated Jewish artist, and grapples with Rasputin’s revelations about her ancient past. Filled with rich period detail, THE LAST ROMANOV is a testament to the enduring power of love and honor, but most of all, hope.
Jan 05, 12
Author Dora Levy Mossanen will have a wide audience for this book, the mystery behind the royal Romanov deaths is fascinating to so many. The author weaves a captivating tale starring Darya, a woman close to the Imperial Family. Early on, Rasputin imparts a disturbing prophecy to Darya…one that keeps Darya on her toes for decades. Constantly in search for Tsarevich Alexis, Darya’s entire life is devoted to that one goal.
Darya’s character is interesting. She isn’t the normal character one finds in books, she is intriguing to readers outside of the story and to characters inside of the story. Darya has a special place in her heart for Alexis as she looked after him in the Palace. She has one opal eye that apparently sees all and appears not to have aged a day. Darya’s reasons for bringing back Alexis are not entirely selfish, she wishes to restore Mother Russia to her former glory. Her sheer determination and steely perseverance are traits to be admired and that will astound the reader. The other characters on not focused upon so much as characters in a history book, they are described and developed very well-the reader will feel close to many of them.
The events in this book are exciting and fit together like puzzle pieces. The reader will be surprised by the twists and surprises in this novel. This book is recommended to young adult/adult readers.
Jan 03, 12
Darya Borodina Spiridova was born with the howls of wild aurochs echoing in the forest. These same great beasts brought tragedy and change to her life while she was still young. After her parents’ tragic deaths, Darya is taken in by the Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov and becomes part of the everyday life of the Imperial family.
Darya was born with one opal eye. This, along with a secret ingredient kept in a locket, seem to give her special healing powers. These gifts are no match for the congenital disease that affects the heir to the Russian throne. Does Darya bring ruin to the royal family when Rasputin is brought in to heal the Tsarevich, or is it fate? After witnessing, yet miraculously escaping, the execution of the Imperial family, Darya believes Alexei has also survived. She spends the rest of her long life looking for the “last Romanov” in hopes of bringing back the glory of Russia before the Bolsheviks.
The author takes a true historical story that has fascinated both scholars and everyday readers for years and adds a twist of magic realism. I have not always been a big fan of magic realism, but it is perfect for this novel.
The horrific scenes of real life history are balanced by the vivid, lyrical descriptions of aurochs, butterflies, birds of paradise and lovely jewels.
Darya is a fascinating heroine who is capable of great passion and unconditional love. Her quest for justice and personal redemption is told as the author weaves a story back and forth in time over a period of 104 years.
Dory Levy Mossanen is the author of two other historical novels, HAREM and COURTESAN. I will be adding these to my to be read pile. I know they will captivate me, just as THE LAST ROMANOV did.
Dec 31, 11
A different kind of love story, I think. The love of a woman for her country, for her royal family, and for her soul mate. A very interesting and engaging read as well.
Amy Lignor‘s review
Dec 17, 11
Perhaps this book was given to the wrong reviewer, because I opened the pages already thrilled with what I was about to read. To me, there is nothing more interesting than the end of the Romanov dynasty – Nicholas II and Alexandra meeting up with the mad monk, Rasputin. This particular true historical story is still one of the most fascinating to be found in fiction.
In 1991, Darya Spiridova receives a knock on her door. There, standing in front of her, is a man in uniform who has an official letter, telling her of a secret meeting that the Russian Nobility Association is going to have. These are the people, like Darya, who wish to bring Mother Russia back. In order to do so, they must find a descendant of the royal Romanov blood to put back on the throne.
Darya is not a normal modern-day Russian, nor was she normal back when she was a Romanov favorite and lived in the palace looking after their only son and the heir to the Russian throne. Yes, she is now one hundred and four years-old, and Darya looks as if she hasn’t aged a day. Although many believe she is a witch because of her one opal eye that sees all, she is far more than just that. She lives with her ‘Little Servant’ inside the old Entertainment Palace, where Nicholas and Alexandra held symphonies and ballets; the only Imperial residence that was not confiscated when Russia came to an end. The palace is surrounded by multiplying butterflies, which many see as the Romanov spirits that still haunt the land. And one of the conversation pieces of the book is the tiny Faberge egg that hangs around Darya’s neck, which gives off a scent that is beyond anyone’s imagination as to what it really is.
As the readers find themselves at this emergency meeting, they also begin to get the entire story of the Romanov’s – the birth of their only son – and the frightening end to the family as they got caught up in the world of Rasputin, and were finally killed to make way for a new Russia. Darya believes that the Tsar’s son was not killed that night in the House of Special Purpose, and she is intent on finding the young boy who suffered from hemophilia and was watched over by a monk who seemed to know Darya’s every thought.
Yes, I could go on and on forever, but the best sum-up of this incredible story is imaginative, thrilling, interesting, fast-paced – with characters that will have you glued to every page as you relive a historical time period that will always remain the perfect blend of myth, truth and fantasy. Enjoy!
Until Next Time,
“Exquisite description, exotic details and vivid language… Mossanen’s language soars as she sweeps readers from the lush bedrooms of the courtesans to the exotic locale of Persia then finally to the diamond mines of South Africa, taking the reader on a magical trip through history. This book is more sensual and satisfying than 10 pounds of chocolate, and you won’t put on a pound.”
“Courtesan — the best historical novel of the year.”
—Romantic Times Magazine Reviewers Choice Awards 2005
“…a rich, sensual fairytale about love as well as a realistic tale of mothers and daughters.”
“This haunting tale is shrouded in layers of imagination as rich as the emeralds and rubies that adorn the Shah and his women.”
—Curled Up With a Good Book
“Lush and erotic, this first novel overflows with the magic and sensuality of Arabian Nights tales, 19th-century orientalist paintings and languorous, silken-pantalooned harem beauties. Set in 14th-century Persia, the tale moves easily between the crowded, garbage-strewn alleys of the Jewish quarter and the magnificent palace of the shah. The shah’s palace harem is concealed behind a tracery of delicately carved stone panels, where his 365 wives and their many attendant eunuchs lounge, and the queen mother, Bibi Sultana, rules. In the Jewish quarter, the characters are Rebekah, the indomitable heroine; the ancient Zoroastrian, a seeress; the one-eyed rabbi; the merchant Rouh’Allah, who realizes nearly too late he loves Rebekah; and Moses, fated to be gelded and become a lover to the shah. Rebekah is only 10 when she’s married to Jacob the Fatherless, a brutal blacksmith, and branded by him with a hot iron bar between her breasts, a mark that will assume nearly supernatural importance. After Jacob commits suicide, Rebekah becomes a prostitute to support her child, Gold Dust. Determined to place her daughter within the harem, she sells her charms to Narcissus, the chief eunuch, even though he carries “his manhood pickled in a jar.” Gold Dust becomes the shah’s favorite, but provides the sonless ruler with another daughter, Raven, who will eventually be as implacable as her grandmother. The multifaceted story involves an invasion by the Mongol hordes under Teymour the Lame (Tamerlane) and daring escapes by Rebekah and Gold Dust. Shamelessly exotic, it’s a delightful read and a grandly romantic escapade.”