Feast of St Theodosia, Virgin-Martyr of Constantinople
The Mirrored World by Debra Dean
IN 1758, IN AN AGE when the extravagant lives of the Russian wealthy seemed to mock the struggles of the destitute, one of the St. Petersburg noblewomen—once a carefree guest at balls and a presence at court—suddenly disappeared. She had recently been mystifying her friends with strange behavior: she had begun giving away all her possessions, and she had donned her late husband’s military uniform, even saying it was she who had died instead of him. After all this, her disappearance was hardly more baffling. This woman, Xenia Grigorievna Petrova, was eventually discovered in the slums of St. Petersburg, living as a pauper. She refused to accept aid and lived out her life in poverty, devoted to prayer, and serving the poor. Today she is known as St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. The Mirrored World imagines the life of St. Xenia through the eyes of her cousin and close friend, Dasha. Their friendship undergoes drastic change as their lives diverge, first through Xenia’s marriage, then through her sudden bereavement, but ultimately as she adopts the life of a “holy fool.” The difficulty of conveying the qualities of such a figure underline the brilliance of Debra Dean’s work in convincingly doing so.
245 pp. paper $14.99
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