Item description for The Midwife of St. Petersburg by Linda Lee Chaikin...
Overview In 1914 Czarist Russia, Karen Peshkov and her mother, a Jewish midwife pioneering in her field, are left to survive on their own when their family is torn apart, but when her mother is injured in an accident, Karena must continue working as a self-taught midwife--even as she longs to attend medical school. Original.
Publishers Description The Flames of Love and Revolution... It is Czarist Russia, 1914. Karena Peshkev dreams of escaping her family's country estate and attending medical school. But each year, as she watches her hopes of being accepted to the Imperial College of Medicine slip further away, she much content herself with working alongside her mother, the village's Jewish midwife. On a visit to her cousin's sumptuous mansion, Karena gets a taste of Russian high society-and meets Colonel Alexsandr Kronstadt. Their attraction is immediate, but they can never act on it. Alex is meant for Karena's cousin, the general's daughter, a superior match politically and socially. But when the accusations of Bolshevik conspiracy tear her family apart, Karena and her mother flee to St. Petersburg. The "Okhrana"-the Russian secret police-are convinced Karena is a Bolshevik traitor, in league with the rebel party's leader. Certain she is guilty of murder and assassination, they're determined to hunt her down. Alex risks his career and his life to protect her from afar, but will it be enough? Will he find her in time to save her from false accusations-and declare his love? Vibrant with historical detail and richly woven themes of danger, romance, and God's faithfulness, "The Midwife of St. Petersburg" is an eloquent tale portraying the beauty and madness of a country that is about to change forever.
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LINDA LEE CHAIKIN has written over thirty top selling books, including The Silk House series and For Whom the Stars Shine, a finalist for the prestigious Christy Award. Two of her novels have been awarded the Silver Angel Award for excellence. Linda is a graduate of Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and taught neighborhood Bible classes for many years. She and her husband make their home in Northern California where her favorite recreations are reading and taking vacations where the wind blows through lonely deserts and ghost towns.
Linda Lee Chaikin currently resides in the state of California. Linda Lee Chaikin was born in 1943.
Linda Lee Chaikin has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Midwife of St. Petersburg?
Karena Peshkev dreams of escaping her family's country estate to attend medical school Jun 18, 2007
In early-20th-century Czarist Russia, Karena Peshkev dreams of escaping her family's country estate to attend medical school. But she continues to be waitlisted because her mother, the village's midwife, is Jewish. On a visit to her wealthy cousin Tatiana's St. Petersburg mansion, Karen meets Colonel Alexsandr Kronstadt, a member of the Okhrana, or secret police. While their attraction is immediate, Alex is meant for Tatiana, the general's daughter --- a superior match politically and socially.
But when the accusations of Bolshevik conspiracy tear her family apart, Karena and her mother flee to St. Petersburg. The Okhrana believes that Karena is a Bolshevik traitor, in league with the rebel party's leader. Will Karena and her family survive? Will she and Alex ever be able to have a relationship?
This historical tale of a Christian-Jewish family's involvement in the Revolution is different and intriguing. Joseph Peshkov is a Christian, and his wife Yeva is a convert -- but she and her relatives (including scholar Uncle Matvey Menkin, who believes that Jesus Christ is the Jewish Messiah) remain under close scrutiny by the Okhrana. Complicating matters is the fact that Karena's brother Sergei is deeply entrenched in Bolshevik activities. When Colonel Aleksandr Kronstadt is sent to investigate suspicious doings where the family lives, near Kiev, his infatuation with Karena leads him to help her and her family out of numerous scrapes.
Grandmother Jilinsky's dreadful memories of pogroms in her native Poland, Madame Yeva's hinky ownership of a stunning jewel and the fact that all available able-bodied men are either being conscripted into the military or sent to labor camps mean that a happy ending for Karena and her ailing mother will be hard to come by.
There were some elements in this book that I greatly enjoyed, not the least of which were a number of the characters. Uncle Matvey, with his gouty foot and book-crowded study, is a marvelous creation, a sort of antiqued "Jews for Jesus" proselytizer. Kronstadt's stepmother Olga evokes all of the splendor and much of the guilt of the White Russian aristocracy. I'm not sure why author Linda Lee Chaikin always refers to the diamonds worn by the shallow aristocratic women as "South African diamonds," unless she has some political bone to sharpen. That's fine, but given the lack of similar digs at worldly things in the book, the shtick seems out of place.
I also liked the homework Chaikin has done on early 20th-century medical and hygienic practices; Madame Yeva believes as firmly in sickroom cleanliness as her idol Florence Nightingale did. I would love to see a book about Karena and her mother running a clinic for St. Petersburg's ladies of the evening (as Karena does a bit of towards the end of the novel).
--- Reviewed by Bethanne Kelly Patrick
More Stars Please Jun 12, 2007
In my opinion, Linda Chaikin writes for 2 genres. One is the fast-paced world of intrigue with highly woven plots and characters (The Buccaneers, Silk House, Heart of India). The other is slightly more relaxed with deep detail and characters who think before they act (Lions of the Desert, East of the Sun). This book falls into the realm of the second, and is a highly entertaining and evocative read.
In respect to the other reviews listed here, yes there are some moments where the text repeats, but possibly this is a help to the reader who cruises through a book, rather than a speed-freak like myself who can't wait to get to the end and find out what happened and blazes through it in under 24hrs. Every author has his or her own foibles, no matter who they are. It's worth 'forgiving' this for the sake of what's going on. Keep in mind also that Aussies don't think like Americans, Americans don't think like Russians, and Russians don't think like Jews. There are valid reasons behind the behaviour of the characters here. To me the style of the book made perfect sense and the pace was beautiful. Too quick, and you fail to 'feel'. A good book is about more than a fleeting mental pleasure.
If you want a quickie romance with passionate love affairs and unrealistic time spans, go and get a novella. The Midwife of St Petersberg is a story with integrity and passion for the long haul, and the characters are treading carefully. Some men and women (Micheal W Smith's biography) share a glance and 'know'they have found their Mr or Mrs Right. Other people can take ten times longer. Still others rush into flings and get themselves in a whole lot of trouble...
Beside the point. I found the story clipped, and see that Chaikin is toning back her long descriptives in favour of urging the story along at a pace with realism that is highly plausible. This book is about more than romance. It's about relationship, deception, truth and what we all want to fight for when government does its people wrong. Karena's own spiritual journey develops in this book, and I am quite certain we shall see one if not two more installments here, hence, what some readers refer to as 'unanswered questions' and loose ends.
At the risk off too much dialogue about author technique, the story goes as follows: Karena is the daughter of a Russian Wheat farmer and has a brother and a sister and numerous cousins. She ventures to cousin Tatiana's house first where she meets Aleksander, or Alex. Their attraction is instant though they talk themselves out of it due to circumstance. Karena's brother ends up in a whole lot of trouble with the law as a Bolshevik, and later she is caught up in his web, ending with dire circumstances when their father, Josef, all but sacrifices himself so that Sergei can have a life. Alex's part to play is as Colonel, for the time being, and his step-mother helps him out with 'spy matters', since she also is a spy and is one of the few he can confide in. The situation for Karena changes numerous times in the space of hours, and her life is thrown into a spin. What would you do if everything you loved was suddenly ripped away?
Karena has several encounters with Alex, as well as the 'troublemakers' of the story. The character details do help define the people and certainly shows who they are and what they are not. Some of it is rather blunt, and shows just how stupid people can be, even when the truth is right before their eyes.
I hesitate to say too much and reveal all the secrets, or else, if you read the reviews here you might be disappointed with knowing everything! :) Suffice it to say, there is a kind of "Book #1" ending about it. It is a semi-cliff hanger not devoid of hope or promise. Karena's own mother is probably holding the biggest bomb of all to drop, at this stage.
Yes, it is a good read. A great read. It does deserve the time of day, but I also suggest you keep in mind not only what kind of things you love, but also to try something a little different. This is meant to be more than your average fiction romance. I considered it very smooth, and I can't wait for the next one! Way to go LLC! :)
Don't waste your time. May 24, 2007
"The Midwife of St. Petersburg" was a great disappointment to me. I have long heard about Linda Lee Chaikin as being an excellent writer of exciting, romantic historical Christian novels, but this book, the first of hers I have read, did not prove such praises to be true. I certainly hope that what other reviewers have said is true, and that this novel is not a good example of Chaikin's work, because based on this book alone, I would most likely never read a book of hers again.
It would be a VAST understatement to say that this book is LONG and drawn-out far beyond what is necessary. It seems as though Chaikin takes forty pages to write what could be done eloquently and efficiently in about five pages. That being said, she certainly pays close attention to detail, leaving no stone unturned - and no thought unrecorded. You do get a feel for the time period and setting when reading this novel. I suppose that attention to detail is the only reason I'm giving this book two stars instead of one.
The constant inner monologues of her characters are, I suppose, meant to create depth in them, but instead it comes off as long-winded and boring. The relationships, particularly the "romantic" one, also lack depth and believability. The "romantic" aspect of this book is nearly non-existent, highly contrived, and very disappointing. The plot, aside from moving ridiculously slow, simply dead ends without much resolution, which is also unsatisfactory.
I think that Chaikin is trying to make this novel the first in a series; my assumption is based solely on the lack of resolution in the plot, although nothing on the book jack or the back of the book indicates that a sequel is in the works. If a sequel is indeed going to be published, I will most certainly not be reading it; I couldn't finish this book fast enough, which is always a sign of a sub-par novel.
Pretty bad for a Chaikin book May 11, 2007
Midwife of St. Petersburg is not one of Ms. Chaikin's better books. In fact, I found it to be pretty annoying. The overall writing style seems sloppy- random events become major focal points and random people appear to have significance. There seems to be bouts of extraneous tangents on certain people and subject matters (Rasputin, Florence Nightingale, etc.) There are multiple instances where a certain fact or event is repeated, first stated by one character then the next chapter another character makes the exact same remark. At least three times, there is the same comment made about Florence Nightingale and her sanitizing/hand-washing practices. Almost as if someone wasn't paying attention when editing or it is assumed that the readers need these redundancies...???? It was extremely annoying to read a story that already didn't have much of a plot and would expound boring historical information, leave a lot of loose ends unresolved AND yet would repeat whole sections that weren't that exciting or relevant the first time.
I personally didn't like the protagonist of Karena either. She seemed like she would be a sweet, caring girl but she was portrayed as stupid and careless. She would knowlingly endanger herself and then 'acted' surprised at the outcome! The little romance that there is in the story, between Karena and Alex, is just barely beginning and yet they claim to have already fallen head over heels for each other. In that sense, even the romance doesn't seem realistic. There is too much time devoted to explaining certain historical facts (the character of Rasputin, religious persecution, Bolshevik revolutions) at great lengths that is too much for a work of fiction. And even those facts are repeated over and over again. As if we're too stupid to have noticed them the first time they were mentioned.
There are also some very hokey lines that make "serious" parts almost laughable. Karena "dream[ed] of the day when she would see him again (...)the day the rosebud would open into a full, red rose." "The times are against us." Those lines could be sweet and poetic but the way they're used it seems more melodramatic.
Overall, a disappointment. This story isn't on the same level as Ms. Chaikin's other novels. It was an interesting story idea but it isn't written well. If is was better edited and the plot more concentrated, it would have made a strong, stand alone book. But instead there is a poorly structured plot with a lot of loose ends and redundancies.
For some better historical romances set in Russia, I recommend reading the Heirs of Anton series by Susan May Warren and Susan Downs.
A Story that begs to be read and enjoyed! May 5, 2007
One of the best books ever written by Linda Chaikin! Russia 1914, a time of unrest among the common people forgotten by the czar and the elite. Karena Peshkova seeks to gain admittance to the prestigious Medical school in St.Petersburg in order to become a doctor but her dream for three years in a row have been dashed. She must content herself to work alongside her monther on her family's country estate as a midwife. But on a visit to her wealthy cousin's home in Kazan, Karena meets the dashing officer Alex Kronstadt who is promised in a political marriage to her cousin, Tatiana. The attraction between them is immediate but they both knew they could never act upon it. As the story prgresses, Karena finds herself a target for the Russian Imperial Secret Police as in league with the rebel leader of the Bolshevik. Certain that she is guilty of murder and conspiracy against the Czar, they are determined to hunt her down. Alex intervenes from afar, saving her life, while knowing that his action could jeopardize his career in the Russian military. Would he be able to get through and declare his love for Karena?
For now this is a standalone novel but I have been told that Linda's readers should write to the publisher of this book for a sequel. The ending was left open for more to the story. I would love for this story to continue!