Book Review: The Man From St. Petersburg by Ken Follett

6480351Title: The Man From St. Petersburg

Author: Ken Follett

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Spy Thriller, Espionage, Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Books

Published: April 1, 1982

Page Amount: 324 pages

Blurb From Goodreads: His name was Feliks. He came to London to commit a murder that would change history. A master manipulator, he had many weapons at his command, but against him were ranged the whole of the English police, a brilliant and powerful lord, and the young Winston Churchill himself…

Why Read: Ken Follett has always been a personal favourite of mine. I love the way he mixes fiction with reality in all of his books, whether he’s chosen to write about the Cold War or the lead-up to World War 1 or 2. His two most famous books, the Fall of Giants and the Winter of the World were potentially two of the most in-depth historical fiction books that I’ve ever had a pleasure of reading… so sometimes it’s fun to do a bit of backlist exploration and check on what he’s written in his past.

Review: If I had to choose one particular facet about “The Man From St. Petersburg” that I most adored, it would be the simultaneous plotlines of our two main parties. I hesitate to call them either protagonists or antagonists because well… the motivations make things a bit difficult. On one hand, one of the characters is an anarchist and he wants to kill a young prince, who wants to establish a treaty between Britain and Russia. He seems horridly non-feeling and overly focused on a goal, numbed by the destruction of the proletariat. Not… not a great guy. Without spoiling anything, I can only say how much I ended up caring for him and wanting him to settle his inner conflict.

Then again, there’s the Walden family (Stephen, Lydia and Charlotte), grown in posh society. They live their lives in concert with the events orchestrated by Feliks, oh and it just so happens that the Stephen is named the head negotiator of this treaty with the prince (as they are related).

Unexpectedly, events from the past that you would never thing should be involved in the difficult negotiations of war treaties against wartime Germany come into play. It’s part of what I love about Ken Follett’s writing. He finds little pieces of humanity in the larger than life historical events. You would never think that chance meetings 30 or so years prior would have an impact on history. Then again, part of what makes history so interesting and intriguing to study is how the smallest and most seemingly insignificant moments end up making all of the difference.

On a more technical note, the plot moves quickly to the point where I was really surprised to be as far through the book as I was. I loved the character development, especially Charlotte’s. As a young “society” girl, she’s taught nothing at all practical about how to live her life. Cue: Suffragettes. The writing style is never something I complain about with Follett and here is no exception. The sentences bring me to a whole other plane of historical existence, where history has altered to bring me there as an observer. *sigh* Perfection.

So my recommendation to you is to read this book. It’s lovely, fun, exciting and brings a smile to my face.

Favourite Quote: Revolutions are always violent, for people will always kill to retain power. Nevertheless they happen, for people will always give their lives in the cause of freedom.”

Rating: 4.3/5 Stars

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