The Mirrored World by Debra Dean

The Mirrored World

The critically acclaimed author of The Madonnas of Leningrad (“Elegant and poetic, the rare kind of book that you want to keep but you have to share” —Isabel Allende), Debra Dean returns with The Mirrored World, a breathtaking novel of love and madness set in 18th century Russia. Transporting readers to St. Petersburg during the reign of Catherine the Great, Dean brilliantly reconstructs and reimagines the life of St. Xenia, one of Russia...

Details The Mirrored World

TitleThe Mirrored World
Release DateAug 28th, 2012
PublisherHarper Collins
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, Russia, Literature, 18th Century, Religion, Literary Fiction, Russian Literature, Novels, Romance, Historical Romance

Reviews The Mirrored World

  • Misfit
    The Mirrored World is a very brief novel of St. Xenia of Russia. The narrator is Xenia's cousin, and through eyes we see a young Xenia wed to Colonel Andrey Fyodorovich Petrov. The marriage is a solid one, but tragedy strikes and Xenia's method of coping with it lead her to become a "holy fool", wandering the streets of St. Petersburg in her husband's old uniform. OK, interesting subject matter, lyrical writing, nice sense of place and time (love...
  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    I suspect this shall be one of those reviews that sounds like I didn't like the book, but I did for the most part, so make note of that. Debra Dean writes beautifully, and I never found my attention waning from The Mirrored World. However, the story really lacked any sort of emotional impact or connection, largely because of the over-brisk pacing and dull main character.Let me start, however, with what kept The Mirrored World a positive read for ...
  • Michael Lujan
    In general, I loved this book. Having come to close the back cover now, I almost feel as though the author was inspired directly by her subject (whom we Orthodox believe continues to intercede for us to God), so believable a picture did she paint of the most renowned of Russia's holy fools, or "Fools for Christ" (1 Corinthians 4:10), Blessed St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. Not only are we given a realistic portrayal of what it might be like to witne...
  • Bonnie
    Expected Publication Date: August 28, 2012The Mirrored World was kindly provided to me by Edelweiss for Harper.Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!The Mirrored World tells the story of the life of Xenia, who later became the mysterious and holy figure St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. The story begins when she was a young child growing up in Russia, continues on with her marriage to Colonel Andrei Feodorovich Petrov, whom she loved terribl...
  • Audra (Unabridged Chick)
    I have a soft spot for saints. Novelists who tackle the life of a saint -- what they might have been really like -- automatically endear themselves to me, and I was drooling with anticipation over this book. Happily, Dean didn't disappoint, and this brisk little novel has the lush extravagance I wanted from a historical novel featuring royalty as well as the more mundane details of everyday life.Beginning in the 1730s, the story is told by young ...
  • Linda Brunner
    An exotic and nuanced tale set in 18th century Russia told in a woman's voice describing her life and the life of her family in a time of royalty, upheaval and mysticism. A slow read that drew me in with it's colorful language and interesting characters.
  • aPriL does feral sometimes
    Xenia and Nadya lose their home when a fire in St. Petersburg in 1736 burns down over 2,000 houses. They move in with their father's cousin in another part of St. Petersburg and share the bed of his daughter, Dasha, a very young child. Dasha screams when she meets Xenia, having been awakened in the middle of the night, because instead of seeing another little girl like herself, she thinks she sees a hunting wolf. Later, she grows to genuinely lov...
  • Rebekah
    Review of The Mirrored World by Debra Dean.I was happy to have received an advanced readers copy of this novel through the goodreads giveaway. "Yes, this was her house, many years ago, when she was still Xenia." So opens The Mirrored World by Debra Dean. I judge a book by the opening lines, just like I judge a book by it's cover (and The Mirrored World has a gorgeous cover), and this line caught me. It's the voice of an old woman remembering her ...
  • Franky
    At the center of Debra Dean’s The Mirrored World is the theme of transformation. The novel, a retelling of the story of St. Xenia of Petersburg, connects the saint’s story with that of the narrator, Xenia’s cousin Dasha. As much as the reading experience enjoyable, I also found it a learning experience. Dean has a way of capturing an appropriate level of spirituality and moralistic tone without overstepping the bounds and going into sappine...
  • Sarah Beth
    I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins. 2.5 starsThe Mirrored World is based on the life of St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, who supposedly gave all her possessions to the poor after the death of her husband, and wandered the streets for 45 years wearing her husband's military uniform. Yet what the jacket cover of this novel fails to tell you is that this book is narrated by Xenia's cousin Dasha, and is largely about her life. Dasha provi...
  • Lizy
    I can't think of a book I've been more excited to read than this one, after seeing it on the shelf. The cover looked great, the synopsis sounded good, and Debra Dean teaches at the university I graduated from, so I thought I'd be guaranteed to love this book, right?And I tried to love this book and get into it. I really did. I made tea instead of letting myself fall asleep and I trooped through to page 90.Then I realized: I was like 40% through t...
  • Denise
    3.0 out of 5 stars - a story of Russia's "holy fool"This novel, set in 18th century Russia, is a reconstruction of the life and times of St. Xenia. She was born into the lower nobility and marries the love of her life during the extravagant years of the royal court in St. Petersburg. Tragedy strikes and Xenia leaves her home and possessions to lead a life of a mad fool caring for the poor and sick in the slums surrounding the city. She has a gift...
  • Emma
    It is so unusual to have an Orthodox Saint featured as the heroin of a novel that I requested right away a copy of The Mirrored World when I realized what it was about – actually, the beautiful cover does point to Orthodoxy. I’m very grateful to the author Debra Dean and to HarperCollins who sent me the book right away: I got it the following day!!I had not read Debra Dean’s previous books. I like very much her writing, very fluid and full ...
  • Kay Mckean
    So much Russian history is unfamiliar to me and I am glad to get a little glimpse of life there in the 18th century. This book centered around St. Xenia, which I found very interesting, but also about the royal court and traditions and perspectives. I enjoyed it - a short book with some tender moments.
  • Riya
    When I first received this book by winning a Goodreads giveaway, I was hesitant to start reading it. This was partly because I had mistakenly thought this book was about something else when I first entered the giveaway, and partly because after reading the reviews of this book I felt like I would be disappointed in this book - after all, its average rating is 3.16 and I have a habit of not reading books unless their rating is 3.5 or above. I saw ...
  • Stabbing
    The book is well written but the story is such a downer I doubt that I'll ever wish to reread it.
  • Graychin
    This is Debra Dean’s second novel, and though it is in some ways less ambitious than her first (the NYT-best-selling Madonnas of Leningrad), I think it’s the better of the two. The storytelling is crisp, the pacing consistent, the characters well-drawn, the prose never flat and often very good. My meager experience of contemporary fiction has shown me that most of it is truly awful. As a rule I avoid it. I make an exception for Ms Dean becaus...
  • Amy
    Saints are fascinating subjects; bringing in to question the lines between devotion and mania, as well as sanity and lunacy. In her latest novel, The Mirrored World, Debra Dean explores the life of the Blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg, an 18th Century saint also known as the fool for Christ. Born to relative privileged and married for love, Xenia dreamed of a happy life with children. Shortly after the death of her infant daughter her beloved husb...
  • Liesje Leest
    Because I won this book I would like to thank Harper Collins and Goodreads for sending me this book. I was so exited when I found out I won. Winning stuff is always fun :)The writing style of The Mirrored World took some getting used too. The book is written like a fairy tale. In the beginning of the book I found it hard to focus on the story because of the dreamy way of writing. Also in the first part of the book it's not really clear who the pe...
  • Kate
    I was entertained and educated.I first listened to the story, then checked out the ebook so I could read the open and the close.The reader, being a native Russian speaker, not only pronounced the Russian words better than I ever could, but also had the lilt and rhythm that Dasha would have had in her delivery. When I re-read the open and close, I read it in what I remembered of her voice.An interesting picture of the 18th century Russian court, a...
  • Danelle
    The Mirrored World is the story of St. Xenia and it tells the story of this revered Russian saint through her cousin Dasha. The story begins when the two are girls and follows them as they grow up, find love, experience loss, lose each other and then find each other again. It's an OK read. I'm pretty well versed in the political & historical events during this time in Russian history and it is accurate. But it felt like the book didn't really tel...
  • Cindi (Utah Mom’s Life)
    The Mirrored World by Debra Dean is the resplendent and fascinating tale of St. Xenia, a holy fool in eighteenth-century Russia. Told by Xenia's beloved cousin, the story tells of Xenia's passionate love for her husband, then her visions of tragedy followed by turning away from the material world to serve the impoverished of St. Petersburg.Debra Dean tells this historical tale with an eye for the details of Elizabeth's eccentric court and then th...
  • Julie
    Want more than a superficial reflection.Needed more of the "holy" less of the "fool"I so loved The Madonnas Of Leningrad that I may be judging this too harshly. MOL was a multi faceted book (read my review : that came to life. TMW stays on the page, flat, uninspiring.I don't mind dark, grim, bleak ... and this setting was all of those things. My problem was that I never felt empathy for the characters, I ...
  • Jan Summers
    I found the beginning of this book quite intriguing. I enjoyed the descriptions of the young St Petersburg and the goings on of The Royal Court. The book seemed to bog down in the second half, perhaps because the true subject of the book was Xenia but the story was told through the eyes of a fictional cousin, Dasha. Xenia was based on Xenia, a patron saint of St Petersburg who lived in the 18th century. We just didn't learn enough about either Xe...
  • Kilian Metcalf
    I loved her debut novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad, that I gave away several copies to friends. I enjoyed her short story collection, Confessions of a Falling Woman, too. Yet somehow this book just didn't grab me the way the others did.I love her voice and her writing style. I think it is the setting that doesn't speak to me. 18th-century Russia is depressing. The void between the rich and the poor is so huge it is unbridgeable. The relationship ...
  • Christina Dudley
    The pages of this beautifully-written, evocative novel flew by. Dean fleshes out the life of St. Xenia, patron saint of St. Petersburg, seen through the loving but mystified eyes of fictional cousin Dasha. I must be pretty worldly because I admit I most enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book, BEFORE Xenia went saintly holy fool on everyone. After that I found her as opaque as Dasha does, and the book reads more like this summary of the real Xenia I fo...
  • Julie
    The beginning of the book beautifully portrayed the society of St. Petersburg in the mid 18th century and I was initially captivated by the romantic deptiction of the ice palace and the grand balls. After the first 50 or 60 pages, though, the plot lost my interest a bit. Witnessing a woman descend into madness because of her grief isn’t exactly uplifting. Xenia’s tragic life is heartbreaking, but her transformation to a devout mystic is unset...
  • Mimi
    I often wonder what makes a book a slow starter - is it the book or is it me? Is it finding the footing for a character and a story, or is it me having to get into the rhythm of the writing?These are the things I found myself pondering as I began this novel - a secular Historical Fiction about St. Xenia of Petersburg, a very beloved Orthodox Saint. For a lot of the novel, I felt that it was a bit hampered by the choice of the narrator not being X...
  • Diane S ☔
    St. Xenia of St. Petersburg is a saint I had never heard of. This book was quite fascinating, the decadence of the court of the Empress Elizabeth, the introduction of Catherine, the Winter Palace, the balls, the idle lifestyles, the banquets that went on forever are wonderfully portrayed. The book is narrated by Xenia's cousin and it is through her that we learn of Xenia's life. After the death of her beloved husband, Xenia quickly looses her bea...
  • Sabina
    Such a disappointment as I loved The Madonnas of Leningrad. I couldn't connect with any of the characters, there was zero character development and I could not get any sense of the time and place. Given that this was 18th century Russia this is a real shame. This is, again, a very short novel, but this time around it doesn't work. More time, and pages, would be needed to set the scene and bring the period to live. That said, curiously there is st...