Book

Rascha Peper

Russian Blue

Unemployed historian Lex Grol (29) has always been fascinated by the fall of the old tsarist regime. In the summer in which this novel is set, he is looking after a villa for friends. Unexpectedly, his former tutor rings him up to ask him to write an article about the murder of the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family. Lex, the son of a Russian mother, has always felt a bond with Alexei, Nicholas’s son and heir who was, like Lex, a haemophiliac.

In her earlier books Peper has already shown that it would be a mistake to write people with passionate hobbies off as harmless cranks. In Russisch blauw she employs a controlled and ingenious style to tell the story of a young man who is rapidly losing himself in his overheated fantasies.

According to a publication Lex unearths, the bodies of two of the Romanovs were never recovered. Imagine if Tsarevitch Alexei, one of the two the report claimed as missing, survived and was rescued by a soldier, and that he lived on under another name and died in a penal camp and, without knowing it, Lex’s Russian mother is a daughter of…

This frenzied identification between the blood brothers Lex and Alexei assumes dizzying proportions. The noise barrier that closes the young researcher off from the outside world recalls the situation in which the imprisoned Romanov family found themselves. ‘Alexei’s life, by which I mean his life as the heir to the throne, ended behind a newly erected high fence. From behind another kind of high fence, also recently erected, he now continued that life.’ Ultimately Lex is headed for complete disillusionment. The reader realises this and is consequently able to enjoy the feeling of being an accomplice before the fact. After a number of ingeniously anticipated twists in the plot the reader sees that he has been misled from the very beginning.

The past is not an encyclopedia of unequivocal facts but an endless collection of stories. Diverse authors of historical novels have shown this in recent years. In this entertaining novel Rascha Peper proves once more that fictional speculation about history can be both fruitful and inspiring.

With Russisch Blauw Rascha Peper confirms her reputation as a practised and entertaining author who has something to say. Her book has a surprising structure and contains many small, well-chosen observations. She succeeds in carefully spreading the many tense moments throughout the whole novel and makes sophisticated use of revealing and recurring images.

Reinjan Mulder, NRC Handelsblad

Rascha Peper has once again proved herself the author of extraordinarily gripping books that are not shy of unusual plots

Doris Grootenboer, Algemeen Dagblad

The introspection which the writer puts in the mouth of her main character is typical of the intelligence and passion which Rascha Peper brings to her work.

Doeschka Meijsing, Elsevier

Translations

Rascha Peper

Rascha Peper (1949-2013) made her debut with the collection of short stories, De waterdame (The Water Lady, 1990). She has written numerous novels since, one of which, Rico’s vleugels (Rico’s Wings, 1993), was shortlisted for the AKO Literature Prize. In 1996 she received the Multatuli Prize…

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Details

Russisch blauw (1995). Fiction, 260 pages.
Copies sold: 15,000

Publisher

L.J. Veen

Herengracht 481
NL - 1017 BT Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 524 98 00
Fax: +31 20 627 68 51

E-mail:
info@ljveen.nl
Website:
http://www.ljveen.nl

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