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Location: Tampa, Florida, United States

A girl living in Tampa Bay for the last 11 years. I mostly fill my time with friends, creative hobbies like community theater and arts and crafts, movies and tv, and other random fun things to try.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Book Review: Object of Virtue by Nicolas B. A. Nicholson

The mystery of a Faberge masterpiece set in New York, Moscow, Paris, and St. Petersburg. What could be more intriguing? It's easy for my friends and family to see why I picked up this book.

The book is Nicholas Nicholson's first, but he writes what he knows. He is an expert in Russian history and art and has worked for famous New York auction houses, much like his noble main character, Prince Alexander "Sasha" Ozerovsky. The novel begins in the fast-paced world of a New York auction house, where a fabulous, but previously unknown, Faberge figurine will be offered for sale. We find out that the piece once belonged to Ozerovsky's family, and so our hero goes in search of where the piece has been all these years. The journey takes us through multiple destinations and across many decades.

The author does not keep us always in the present time, but tells the story mainly in Sasha's point of view. The additions of scenes from the distant and not-so-distant past from the points of view of other characters added flavor and context to the mystery. The author is obviously in love with all of his destinations as he dwells on scenes about the towns. He also takes care to illustrate the contrast from the lives of the Russian nobility in exile in America with those of the New Russians of Moscow and the common people in St. Petersburg. His descriptions of the Faberge pieces often made me wish the book was illustrated.

Though the pace and plot are very full at the beginning, the author loses his way in the details in the third act. While hunting down the truth about Snegerochka -- the figurine in question -- Sasha and his creator get bogged down in descriptions of the Moscow scene rather than moving the story along. There are odd loose ends that never really go anywhere, but aren't filled out enough to be real red herrings. The ending is hurried and rather disappointing, leading the reader to wonder how we ever got so far.

Oh, and don't go into this book thinking you're going to get the typical mystery's quiet sideline romance either. All of the ladies in this book are either married or one of Sasha's cousins.

All-in-all, I enjoyed the book for the historical perspective, the social aspects of being an exiled person of nobility who is both Russian and American, and the long descriptions of Russian locales that I have visited myself. The plot itself was kind of weak and the ending was a major disappointment. Not something I would reread, but I might pick up something else by this author, if he wrote another. Decent for a fluffy book you don't plan to think about much.

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Blogger staff said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I look forward to perusing it.

April 7, 2009 at 4:50 PM  

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