Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Tsar’s Dwarf by Peter H. Fogtdal

Sorine Bentsdatter, is a tough, peppery, sarcastic, independent, and proud little dwarf woman who doesn’t waste time feeling sorry for herself. She has no time for sentimentality and sees the world and the people in it for what they really are.

When the King of Denmark gives her to Tsar Peter the Great, Sorine is sent to Russia to join Peter’s collection of dwarves and other human oddities.  There, renamed Surinka, she meets the Tsar’s favorite dwarf, the perpetually cheerful Lukas. Surinka is infuriated by his habit of always looking on the bright side, but in spite of herself she succumbs to him.  But life in Russia is hard, and Surinka is haunted by the ghost of “the scoundrel” the n’er-do-well drunken lover she lived with who fathered the hare-lipped baby she sacrificed to the river.

She eventually grows disenchanted with Russia and runs away. She attaches herself to a noble family and becomes a combination governess/jester for their children, until the children grow up and lose interest in her, then she boards a ship back to Denmark, arriving just in time to see the Great Fire sweep through Copenhagen, supposedly as God’s punishment for the people’s sins.

 This was an interesting novel, a lot of historical fiction is very pretty, the clothes, the décor, and jewels, but this was more gritty, and the narrator had a more cantankerous and sarcastic voice, which was, in its way, a breath of fresh air. Sorine/Surinka and her actions weren’t always likeable, but she was definitely a fascinating character.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.