In The Man from St. Petersburg, Ken Follett once again spins an imaginary tale around an actual attempt to win a war by misdirection. Here his focus is World War I.
All Europe knows war is inevitable: Germany has the continent’s strongest army and it wants Alsace and Lorraine back.
England is militarily weak. She and France will need a third ally against Germany.
The Czar wants an alliance with England; he’s sent Prince Orlov to London to seek one.
Winston Churchill taps the Earl of Walden to handle negotiations for England. Walden’s Russian wife is Orlov’s cousin.
Before their marriage, Lady Walden had a lover in St. Petersburg, a poor, militant radical; when her family found out, they had Feliks arrested and tortured. To save his life, she agreed to marry Lord Walden.
The couple have a daughter making her debut in society in 1914 just as Feliks, hardened by imprisonment in Siberia, has come to London to kill Orlov.
Compared to his ordinary blokes, Follett’s upper crust characters are two-dimensional, and unfortunately the focus in The Man is on the social and political elite.
Only Follett’s generous sprinkling of 1914 historical trivia raise the novel above the ordinary.
The Man from St. Petersburg by Ken Follett
W. Morrow. © 1982. 323 p.
1982 bestseller #10. My grade: B
© 2019 Linda G. Aragoni