To be honest, though I gave it four stars on Goodreads, I’m happier awarding it 3.5. It’s a fast read, a lovely story, written in fable-like language.
Based on a true story, this is a tale told by a beloved grandmother to her grandson, who happens to be the book’s author. Author Sepehr Haddad is the grandson of noted Iranian composer Nasrosoltan Minbashian and it is Nasrosoltan’s story that is the subject of this book.
It’s the early 1900s. As the son of yet another Iranian composer (Gholam Reza Minbashian), young Nasrosoltan is sent to the famed St. Petersburg Conservatory to study music. When he finds himself short of funds and too embarrassed to ask his parents for more money, Nasrosoltan takes on a temporary gig as piano teacher to Princess Irina Alexandrovna of the ruling Romanov family — a niece of Tsar Nicholas II.
Although originally motivated by money alone, Nasrosoltan soon finds himself drawn into the Romanov world of wealth, power, and privilege. Eventually developing romantic feelings toward his student. You probably know this isn’t going to end well.
It’s a period piece, a sweet story about young love that also touches on themes like obligation to family, obedience to parents, class, even patriotism. And while I enjoyed the story, I found the writing style overly simple and straightforward. Like reading a fable. Not a style that enhanced the story.