Told with humor, intrigue, and a shrewd eye for detail, this riveting short biography sheds much-needed light on the life of nineteenth-century Russian icon Grigory Rasputin.
Grigory Rasputin, a Siberian peasant turned mystic and court sage, was as fascinating as he was unfathomable. He played the role of the simple man, eating with his fingers and boasting, “I don’t even know the ABC.” But, as the only person able to relieve the symptoms of hemophilia in the Tsar’s heir Alexei, he gained almost hallowed status within the Imperial court.
During the last decade of his life, Rasputin and his band of “little ladies” came to symbolize all that was decadent, corrupt, and remote about the Imperial Family, especially when it was rumored that he was not only shaping Russian policy during the First World War, but also enjoying an intimate relationship with the Empress…
Rasputin’s role in the downfall of the tsarist regime is beyond dispute. But who was he really? Prophet or rascal? A “breath of rank air...who blew away the cobwebs of the Imperial Palace,” as Beryl Bainbridge put it, or a dangerous deviant?
Writing for historical aficionados and curious readers alike, Frances Welch turns her inimitable wry gaze on one of the great mysteries of Russian history.
“In this elegant and insightful short biography, Welch has enormous fun...she has done an excellent job of digging out the kind of telling detail that often gets swamped by the grand political narrative.”
– Mail on Sunday
“In this slender and enjoyable biography, Frances Welch sets about her search for the man with common sense, wry observation and insight."
– The Sunday Times
“No. 1 Non-Fiction London Bestseller Feb 2014”
– Evening Standard
“Top 10 MOST REVIEWED Books of the Week Feb 2014”
– The Bookseller
“Hats off to Frances Welch for an absolutely crackling,richly packed biography.”
– The Independent, Ireland
“Top Summer Book 2014”
– The Times
“Welch’s entertaining romp brims with details of the rumbustious rascal with superb seduction skills (despite his foul breath and food-encrusted beard) and a weakness for drink. A jollier account of the Siberian peasant-turned-mystic’s life would be hard to find."
– Daily Mail MUST READ
“Welch is a mistress of wry description not only inthis book but in three other sharply observed works on the Russian court.”
– The Times, Roger Boyes
“Frances Welch combines historical insight with a novelistic flair for character.”
– Evening Standard
“Welch writes with a limpid style and a cool intelligence.”
– Sunday Telegraph
"Extraordinary... A delight to read, if horror can be delightful."