The Snow Mountain begins in 1914 and follows the final years of the Romanov family told through the viewpoint of Czar Nicholas II’s eldest daughter Olga Nicolaievna, and her secret love for soldier Simon Hendrikova. The author parallels Olga’s story with that of Joe Calvert, attaché to the American Embassy and his friendships with a British diplomat, Simon’s sister Dolly and revolutionist Mara Trenova. As an assassination in Sarajevo sparks events that have repercussions around the world, author Gavin takes the reader from the opulence of the Romanov lifestyle, through the terrors of the revolution and on to the horrific end of the Czar and his family in a cellar in Ekaterinburg.
Despite the historical accuracy of the novel, I was quite disappointed with Gavin as a novelist. What should have been a crackling good read from start to finish fell flat to this reader — I felt like I was always on the outside looking in — and that’s not where I want to be in a historical novel. The main characters were not well developed and I would have appreciated a closer look into the mindset of Nicholas and Alexandra to better understand their motives and the choices they eventually made that so greatly affected world history. Even Rasputin came off kind of dull and certainly not the delightfully evil villain I was expecting.
Worse yet, I found very little chemistry between Olga and Simon and found it to be a bit of a stretch how they were able to be alone together as much as they were in the first half of the novel. I’m giving this one four stars for the historical research and two for the slow moving story line and calling it at three stars. Recommended only for die-hard fans of reading anything and everything Romanov.