Thursday, September 9, 2010
The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn
Nadya has no past - and no future. After being turned out of a Russian mental asylum with no family or money - or memory - to think of, she was picked up by Mrs. Zolokov, who worked at The Happy Comrades' Tavern. Now she's been there for some time, working as Mrs. Zolokov's tavern maid. She still cannot remember her past, nor does she want to. One day, two men show up at the tavern. Ivan is a cold-hearted, tired, runaway Bolshevik soldier; Sergei, a former count. After some questioning, they offer to take her along with them - to Paris. They tell her they are private investigators, looking for the long-lost granddaughter of a wealthy woman in Paris, and they believe they've found her in Nadya. Wanting to get away from Mrs. Zolokov and desiring a family who would take her in as their own, Nadya agrees to follow Ivan and Sergei to Paris to see if she is the long-lost granddaughter the old countess has been looking for.
But there are a few things Nadya doesn't know. For one, Ivan and Sergei are con men. They don't really think Nadya is the granddaughter they are looking for, only that she looks like her. This granddaughter is going to bring them a lot of money - for she is Anastasia Romonov, the last Grand Duchess of Russia. And as Ivan and Nadya begin falling in love, Ivan realizes he must make a choice - and learn to do the right thing, no matter how hard.
I was happy with this book, as much as I was disappointed. I enjoyed it for what it was (it only took me a few hours, too, which was a relief amongst the many classics I'm reading), but it had several flaws. A few of them are:
One - the characters were underdeveloped and immature. Nadya had a temper that flared up at the most random times, which cut off the flow of the story. Ivan, too, was a confusing character. You never really knew what he wanted and why.
Two - the love story was choppy and slightly unresolved. Ivan's feelings for Nadya are up in the air the whole time. In fact, their love story is so thrown together and choppy that I can't really say when they first started falling in love. In fact, his first affections for her, and vice versa, aren't even shown. And when they are finally together, there is no explanation of why they treated each other the way they did...
and that brings me to my third flaw - the form of the novel. I felt like a lot of it was seperate chapters that were merely thrown together when it was time to publish the book. There were hasty explanations for certain actions of the characters after the fact, when it would have been much more smooth and interesting to build up the reason beforehand. Her writing itself wasn't too bad; that, and the fact that I am extremely fascinated with Anastasia Romonov's story, kept me into the book. If it had been written badly and I hadn't cared about the characters, I would have put the book down early on. I did care about the characters, however, despite the many flaws in the way Suzanne Weyn built them (or rather threw them together). Ever since I first read about the Russian revolution, I've often wondered whether or not Anastasia managed to escape. In fact, I've hoped she did. Therefore, in this story, I wanted her to escape, find her grandmother, fall in love, and live a normal life.
And don't get me wrong. Like I said before, I enjoyed this book for what it was. It had it's moments, yes, and big flaws that almost anyone can recognize, but it was a good story, and made me smile, laugh, and feel for the characters. I would recommend it to someone looking for an easy and fun read. Because that's exactly what it was.