Nina Ivanovna's world is in turmoil. Her only hope is to travel to St Petersburg, to escape the past and find a future.
Stefan Kolodin is a medical student - young and idealistic, he wants change for Russia and its people.
Amidst the chaos of a city in revolt, their lives collide. And a stormy relationship develops . . . full of passion and politics.
But soon Nina is drawn in to the glamorous, lavish lives of the Russian royal family - where she begins to fall under the spell of their mysterious monk, Grigory Rasputin. The ruby-studded dagger he carries - beautiful and deadly - could save her and Stefan from a cursed life. . . or condemn them to it.
‘Interesting Moments’ while researching THE RASPUTIN DAGGER
One of the best things about being a writer is the excuse it gives you to travel. On the grounds of Necessary Research, while those at home shiver in winter months I can be in Italy following in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci (The Medici Seal) or wandering the streets of Moorish Spain (The Prisoner of the Inquisition). And most trips are not without their “interesting” moments.
My new historical novel, The Rasputin Dagger, is the story of Nina, daughter of a Storyteller, and Stefan, a medical student, who get caught up in the events before and after the Russian Revolution. Their lives collide, and a stormy relationship develops, full of passion and dangerous politics. The book is set in St Petersburg and Siberia.
Obviously, myself and intrepid husband had to go to those places…
St Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited and our wonderful tour guide was determined to show us the very best sights. However, when I mentioned “Rasputin” - the mysterious monk who was closely involved with the last Tsar and his family, the tour guide frowned and shook his head. I realised then that the Moika Palace, where Rasputin was brutally murdered in strange circumstances, was not going to be on the “must see” list. But this incident, which shocked the world and is still of interest today, is a crucial scene in my book. So off we went on our own, clutching a map and with very limited Russian, to discover that gaining entry to the Palace was not straightforward. The opening hours were erratic, seemingly designed to accommodate the itinerary of cruise ship passengers.I’m still not quite sure how we managed to become temporary passengers on the S.S. ****** but, eventually, there I was, with a chill running up my spine, in the basement room where Prince Yusupov entertained Rasputin with wine and cake before doing the dreadful deed.
Photo: Theresa Breslin Books - Moika Palace Basement Room: ©Scarpa
When abroad I love exploring on my own, but find that local guides provide the best snippets of information. Being guided through the National Park in Siberia which covers approximately 180 square miles we were told that it was arranged into three ‘areas’. The first for families to wander and picnic, the second, further out, for hikers and, furthest from the city, is where the wildlife live.
‘What kind of wildlife?’ I asked
‘Oh,’ the guide answered me. ‘All sorts - small animals, big animals,’ adding casually, ‘bears, wolves…’
‘Bears and wolves!’
‘Emmm…’ I squeaked. My vivid imagination seeing small children fleeing packs of howling wolves. ‘Do the bears and wolves know about the arrangement of the areas?’
She shrugged. ‘Ach, well, sometimes if the winter is long and very cold the bears and wolves get hungry and come in nearer looking for food. And so we close the public part of the park and the rangers go out to deal with them...’
Photo: Theresa Breslin Books – Siberia Stolby National Park Entrance: ©Scarpa
In the local market a trader trying to persuade us to buy a fur lined hood obligingly explained the ‘Hierarchy of Hats.’
‘We have every type of animal,’ he boasted.
‘Oh, dear,’ I said, hoping that the park rangers had dealt with the hungry bears and wolves by giving them food.
‘Yes,’ he went on. ‘Sable and mink, expensive. Fox and squirrel not so much money.’
‘What’s the cheapest?’ I asked despite myself.
‘Rat,’ he replied.
‘Did you say… “Rat?!”
‘Oh, yes,’ he replied. ‘Rat skin is very useful. Not very warm, but good for making cheaper gloves.
I pulled my down-filled duvet coat closer around me and moved on….
©Theresa Breslin 2017