A decade after her father and sister were tragically murdered in Moscow, Rosie is a doctoral student at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute and is prepared to finally put her trauma behind her. But after she meets older historian Alexey Ivanov, author of an acclaimed memoir recounting his experiences in Stalinist Russia, Rosie is given the opportunity to spend a summer as his research assistant in her homeland.
Grappling with ghosts of times past and a desire for closure, Rosie sets out to uncover her family’s legacy. She follows a pathway of clues, beginning with a small key that belonged to her mother, and this journey will keep readers in constant suspense.
The Last Russian Doll blends the best of two genres by embedding a riveting mystery within a masterfully researched historical narrative. Drawing on her background in Slavic studies, first-time novelist Kristen Loesch incorporates historical details with care. History enthusiasts will enjoy piecing together this fresh perspective on 20th-century Russia, while fans of contemporary whodunits will relish the ever-increasing drama.
Spanning eight decades and three generations, The Last Russian Doll is unavoidably but satisfyingly complex. Rosie shares the spotlight with three other narrators, each of whom has their own distinct voice and storyline. Short passages of fables interspersed throughout the novel impart fantasy and mystique while adding heft to an already exemplary plot. Each of these time periods and narrative styles is well rendered, eventually intertwining in beautiful ways.
Loesch writes with a subtly dramatic flair, which contributes to the novel’s propulsive sense of forward motion. The Last Russian Doll is a deeply emotional and irresistible story of what it takes to find one’s way through a country with a story like none other.