For her eleventh book, French novelist Alexandra Lapierre has picked the most extravagant and moving Russian heroin and has traveled around Europe, Estonia and Russia for three years, digging into archives, secret service files from England, France, Germany and Russia, and aristocrat’s clubs. The life of Moura Benckendorff, who lived through the Russian Revolution, loved Gorki, H.G. Wells and a charming British diplomat, Robert Bruce Lockhart, is one of her most achieved novels.
She is wilder than Fanny Stevenson or Artemisia Gentileschi, she is more adventurous than William Petty or conquistadora Dona Isabel Barreto, she is in love with three men at the same time and devoted to each one of them! She is probably the most modern and mysterious of Lapierre‘s heroins and was the subject of a film, « British Agent » by Michael Curtiz. Her life story cannot be put down.
This is again a long novel, which builds up with Moura’s adventures with many different men. Is she a spy for the Brits, the Germans or the Russians or all three of them ? Alexandra Lapierre does not think so, but she definitely is a diplomat and a go-between, who interests all secret services. At the book launch, the author told us ” what I would discover about Moura, would be way beyond my wildest dreams”.
She manages to live through International events with no money but great elegance, and to fascinate all intellectuals of her time. She is an aristocrat who loves men and life. The book is a fantastic read and the day after I finished it, I suddenly felt I had lost my new best friend.
A whole world of dreaming, loving and conspiring set in Naples, London, St Petersburg and Paris had suddenly vanished. This is Alexandra Lapierre’s most adventurous novel to date for she has put a true character in the limelight. And when you learn that Moura was British Lib Dem Nick Clegg‘s great aunt, you will want to read it even more! (“Moura, la Mémoire incendiée”, Flammarion)
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