Author: Danielle Steel
Against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution and World War I Europe, Zoya, young cousin to the Tsar, flees St. Petersburg to Paris to find safety. Her entire world forever changed, she faces hard times and joins the Ballet Russe in Paris. And then, when life is kind to her, Zoya moves on to a new and glittering life in New York. The days of ease are all too brief as the Depression strikes, and she loses everything yet again. It is her career, and the man she meets in the course of it, which ultimately save her, as she rebuilds her life through the war years and beyond. And it is her family that comes to mean everything to her. From the roaring twenties to the 1980’s, Zoya remains a rare and spirited woman whose legacy will live on.
Honestly, I was quite sceptical about picking up a Danielle Steele book as I was under an impression that she writes mushy romance that I am not really a fan of. So, I started Zoya with this mindset, and I was pleasantly surprised. Is there romance? Yup…but it also has a story, it also has many other things apart from the romance…which is exactly my cup of tea!
The book also touches upon Russian Revolution. This was quite new for me, as I have not read much about this. In this story, the protagonist (Zoya) is a cousin of the Tsar. So, everything that happened in the revolution is quite detailed. I would definitely like to read more about this era.
Coming to the story, the book starts with a young Zoya who is living in her own bubble. As the author puts it:
“Their life was so comfortable and easy, it seemed cruel that all around them people were sad and hungry.”
The author does a wonderful job setting up a back story. As readers we get contrary pictures as on one hand we have people who are going to dances and on another hand we have people being murdered.
Once the Tsar and his family are kept under house arrest, Zoya escapes Russia with her grandmother. They shift to Russia where they face poverty for the first time. This is so beautifully expressed by the line:
A swan being changed back into a ducking
Here, we see some phenomenal character growth. Zoya changes from a girl who talks only of gowns and parties, now grows up and not only gets a job but fights to keep it.
The romance angle of this romance is quite beautiful. There is a classic triangle as well. Zoya’s grandmother wishes that she marries a much older Russian man, as he is Russian and she believes he would take care of her. She tells Zoya that her life would be simple and she would not have to work anymore! Zoya puts her foot down, stating that she likes to work and would continue to do it irrespective of the fact that she marries or not and the fact that she does not like this person.
One inconsistency that I found in this book was, that when I was reading up on the Russian Revolution, I found that during the era in which the book is based, St. Petersberg was “Petrograd”. But, the characters in the book used the newer name.
Another fact that was slightly off was since Zoya as shown to be such an independent character, I did not like the way she became oh so weak in front of her love. The whole “He saved me” was a bit too much.
Overall, this would be a good read for those who like romance mixed with history, I rate this book 3 out of 4