The Woman of a Thousand Names

Atria. Mar. 2020. 640p. ISBN 9781501197918. $30. F
The protagonist of this novel based on a real historical figure was born Maria Zakrevskaya. She led a dazzling life that is now shrouded in mystery. Many say she was a double agent for the British and the Bolsheviks. The author relies on letters, diaries, and other sources to shine a spotlight on events between February 1917 and May 1921. Her status and wealth crater as Russian society collapses under the pressure of Lenin and his Bolsheviks. Lovely Maria survives by being enigmatic, hardworking, and dedicated to survival. Following chapters cover 15 more years of intrigue. Most notably, Maria was the partner and lover of the international hero Maxim Gorky, famed British writer H.G. Wells, and the British agent Robert Bruce Lockhart. Alongside these liaisons are her two husbands, two children, and other beloved members of her household.
VERDICT This novel by award-winning historical novelist Lapierre (Between Love and Honor) was first published in French in 2016. The story integrates verbatim quotes with imagined conversations and settings. Realistic yet fantastical in its account of the audacious Maria, this is a rewarding rediscovery of a memorable woman.
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