I was incredibly excited to get my hands on this book & I ended up being completely blown away by it; with natural, well-paced & inviting writing, Dee Garretson has created a moving story that presents a realistic & well-balanced view of the Russian revolution. I absolutely loved this book, as well as main character Charlotte, & I was so sad when I finished the final page.
I was sent a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review.
⚠️ This book contains war themes such as gun use, violence & arson, as well as classism, sexism, violent riots & a lot of death. There is also references to the death of a parent that occurs before the book is set. ⚠️
It’s 1917, and Charlotte Mason is determined to make a life for herself in czarist Russia. When her mother dies, Charlotte is forced to put her plans to go to medical school aside to care for her unruly siblings. Then a handsome new tutor arrives. Charlotte has high hopes that he’ll stay, freeing her up to follow her dreams of becoming a doctor. But there’s more to Dmitri that meets the eye.
Just when she thinks she can get her life back, Russia descends into revolution and chaos. Now, not only does Charlotte need to leave Russia, she needs to get her siblings out too-and fast.
Can Charlotte flee Russia, keep her siblings safe, and uncover Dmitri’s many secrets before she runs out of time?
I’ve read a fair amount of books set in wartime Russia, but this was my first about World War One, & all of my previous Russia-set reads were royal family-focused, so Gone by Nightfall both educated & entertained me. I loved this book so much & Charlotte was a protagonist that I found impossible not to care about, as were her family & many other people in her community. Truly, I was so focused on reading the book that I neglected to write many reading notes, so I shall have to keep things short & sweet.
As soon as I started reading this beautiful story I knew I was going to like it; Dee’s writing was incredibly inviting & was brilliant at making me feel like I was in snowy Russia, alongside Charlotte & her family. Charlotte was a likeable main character & I absolutely adored her mismatched family; the pages felt warm & safe whenever Charlotte was surrounded by those she loved & I adored the atmosphere these scenes created.
When I think back to how I felt whilst reading this, the first thing that comes to mind is how easy it was to get sucked into the story – I didn’t want to put the book down & the whole thing felt very emotionally charged, even when the scenes weren’t meant to be that intense. The book is set during a time of great unrest in Russian history, which was a really interesting learning point for me; Charlotte’s views on what was happening around her were confused & muddled, & it was refreshing to have a protagonist that wasn’t fiercely supporting one specific side of something… instead, Charlotte was scared & unsure about what was best for her & her community, & Dee did a really good job of presenting a balanced picture to the reader by introducing a variety of characters with a variety of experiences & views.
On GoodReads, some people have categorised Gone by Nightfall as a romance but I didn’t really see it that way… Charlotte does have a romantic interest in the book, & he is rather lovely, however, despite their relationship having an impact on the story, it didn’t take over things or remove attention from what was important about the story – i.e. the revolution, the devastation that was caused by rioters, the poverty of the country, etc. etc.. Charlotte’s boo was a key character in the story, but their feelings for one another were not necessarily important & I really liked that Dee managed to keep the focus on what was happening to Charlotte’s community.
When I finished Gone by Nightfall, I felt satisfied by the ending, but I also felt like I had lost something: like there was a emptiness inside me because I had to say goodbye to Charlotte. The story consumed me during a time when I was struggling with my mental health & made me feel something when I was struggling to feel anything but numbness. I was so grateful to Dee at the time for providing me with a proof, & that gratefulness is still just as strong now, months after finishing it.
If you love historical fiction like I do then please do consider reading Dee’s stunning novel; the book has become quite important to me & I’d love to know that other people have picked it up because of my review.
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