Book Review: The Last Russian Doll #Russianhistoricalfiction

Below is another review I did for the February issue of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society.

The Last Russian Doll is a dual-timeline novel set mostly in Russia. In 1991, Rosie (Raisa) is engaged to be married and taking care of her mother in London. When her mother dies suddenly, she leaves Rosie a key and a mystery. Rosie applies for a job in Russia, hoping to take that key and answer a lifetime’s worth of questions. In 1915, Antonina (Tonya) is trapped in a loveless marriage as the Bolshevik revolution is beginning.

This is a gorgeous saga, filled with mystery and Russian fairytales. The history of 20th-century Russia is told through the eyes of two women. The story encompasses many devastating events: the 1917 Revolution, the Russian Civil War, Stalin’s purges, and the siege of Leningrad during WWII. Rosie arrives back in Russia as the Soviet Union is nearing its end, determined to make sense of her past. The weaving together of the stories of Rosie and Tonya is a perfect tapestry of tragedy, romance, and survival. Fairytales and porcelain dolls add another intriguing layer. This magical but tragic blend of history and fiction transports us straight to Russia during many turbulent periods in its past. It is an absolutely mesmerizing read.

Fans of Russian history and folklore, and anyone who just wants to read an amazing novel, should pick this one up immediately.


Kristen Loesch grew up in San Francisco. She holds a BA in History, as well as a Master’s degree in Slavonic Studies from the University of Cambridge. Her debut historical novel, THE LAST RUSSIAN DOLL, was shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award and longlisted for the Bath Novel Award under a different title. After a decade of living in Europe, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.

Follow Kristen on Social Media: Twitter | Website | Instagram


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*The Last Russian Doll will be released March 14th.

9 thoughts on “Book Review: The Last Russian Doll #Russianhistoricalfiction”

  1. I do love Russian history and Russian literature. Is it safe to assume that The Last Russian Doll follows naturally from the Russian literary tradition? It does sound like an excellent read, particularly with the dual timelines.


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