From the opening passage to the bittersweet ending, this book will hold your interest and you will find it hard to put it aside. The rivetting main character never disappoints nor do any of the other supporting characters. The plot has many surprising twists and turns and despite being a work of ficcion you learn a great deal about Russian history and a number of other cultural topics. You defintely have to meet the author half way by bringing all your own knowledge into play. The author has a great sense of humor as well. A most original and entertaining book. Highly recommendable.