Against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution and World War I Europe, Zoya, young cousin to the Tsar, flees St. Petersburg to Paris to find safety. Her entire world forever changed, she faces hard times and joins the Ballet Russe in Paris. And then, when life is kind to her, Zoya moves on to a new and glittering life in New York. The days of ease are all too brief as the Depression strikes, and she loses everything yet again. It is her career, and the man she meets in the course of it, which ultimately save her, as she rebuilds her life through the war years and beyond. And it is her family that comes to mean everything to her. From the roaring twenties to the 1980's, Zoya remains a rare and spirited woman whose legacy will live on.
With the emotional panache that pleases her devotees, Steel (Kaleidoscope) portrays Zoya Ossupov, a courageous young woman of Imperial Russia who experiences both ecstasy and trauma. Daughter of a count who is a cousin of Tsar Nicholas, Zoya enjoys a privileged, cloistered existence. Zoya, whose name means ``life,'' is on intimate terms with the tsar's family. All of them, of course, are endangered by the Revolution. The insurgents slaughter the tsar and his kin, and cause the deaths of Zoya's parents and brother, forcing her to flee to Paris with her aged but indomitable grandmother. Suffering in unaccustomed poverty, they are sustained by Zoya's wages as a dancer with the Ballet Russe. Romance brightens her life following a chance encounter with an affluent New Yorker, Capt. Clayton Andrews. Enchanted by Zoya, Andrews eventually brings her to Manhattan as his bride, never imagining the tragedies that will befall them both. Steel evokes the final days of Imperial Russia with characteristic bravura. As always, she offers a carefully calculated mix of picturesque locales, remarkable events and appealing characters. Literary Guild and BOMC dual main selections. (June)