I confess, I knew nothing about Russian poet Alexander Pushkin or his story until after I finished reading The Lost of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam ($18.50, Raincoast Books, St. Martin’s Griffin). The book tells the story of of Natalya, his wife.

Pushkin and Natalya Goncharova, who is beautiful and smart, meet and fall in love during Christmas 1828 at her first public ball. A fan of his work, Natalya and Pushkin eventually marry and lead a life full of passion, but also jealousy.

Alexander Pushkin eventually dies from being shot during a duel defending Natalya’s “honour” and the mother of four finds herself reviled for her alleged role in his death (because as her aunt says, it’s always is the woman’s fault).

I knew how the book was going to end, not because I knew Pushkin’s story (I didn’t read about it until after I finished the book), but because the book starts – and ends – with his death. It’s the middle we get to know both Alexander and Natalya as well as what life was like for the couple in St. Petersburg, and surrounding areas, in the 1800s.

I love that period in time, but I am quite thankful I didn’t live in it. I have no idea how people could understand the rules of of the time period or hope to be successful at it. I feel I would likely have been sent to a remote spot in Siberia, a constant threat to the couple from the tsar.

I also liked Natalya and Pushkin’s story and how Natalya was portrayed as a fierce, strong woman who played by the rules – to a point – but also showed courage, bravery and intelligence. Excellent read.

A copy of this book was provided by Raincoast Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.