Set against the volatile landscape of 20th-century Russia, The Woman of a Thousand Names brings history to vivid life in the tale of an extraordinary woman caught in the waves of change—with only her wits to save her.
This novel by award-winning historical novelist Lapierre...was first published in French in 2016. The story integrates verbatim quotes with imagined conversations and settings. Realistic yet fantastical in its account of the audacious Maria, this is a rewarding rediscovery of a memorable woman.
This massive novel, based on the life of a real woman, represents a huge amount of research by Lapierre ... The novel has all the earmarks of an exhaustive biography, with quotations from original sources—correspondence, diaries, and press clippings—often taking over the narration. The real Moura kept much close to the vest, including the details of an ordeal in a Bolshevik prison. Lapierre respects Moura’s privacy by not imagining the experience—but shouldn’t fiction free an author from such scruples? ... Lapierre lets the truth interfere with a good story ... Nevertheless, as history brought to life through the eyes of one woman whose fortunes took her through two wars and tumultuous regime changes, this account is engrossing, especially as to the particulars of existence in a paranoid, post-revolutionary state with a bureaucratic machine as deadly as it is dysfunctional ... Although too long and overly slavish to the record, this multifaceted portrait rescues its heroine from undeserved obscurity.
Lapierre....serves up a stirring portrait of a sensual Russian aristocrat ... Lapierre evokes Moura’s appeal by moving between the impressions she makes on others, including Gorky and H.G. Wells, and her own deep feelings, meshing history with a captivating tale of a passionate heart. This will move readers.