Book Review: The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch

Posted March 14, 2023 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 26 Comments

The Last Russian Doll
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

by Kristen Loesch
Publication Date March 14, 2023
Published by Penguin
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Genres: Fiction / Historical / General, Fiction / Sagas, Fiction / Thrillers / Historical
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

A haunting, epic novel about betrayal, revenge, and redemption that follows three generations of Russian women, from the 1917 revolution to the last days of the Soviet Union, and the enduring love story at the center.

In a faraway kingdom, in a long-ago land...
...a young girl lived happily in Moscow with her family: a sister, a father, and an eccentric mother who liked to tell fairy tales and collect porcelain dolls. 
One summer night, everything changed, and all that remained of that family were the girl and her mother.
Now, a decade later and studying at Oxford University, Rosie has an English name, a loving fiancé, and a promising future, but all she wants is to understand--and bury--the past. After her mother dies, Rosie returns to Russia, armed with little more than her mother’s strange folklore--and a single key.
What she uncovers is a devastating family history that spans the 1917 Revolution, the siege of Leningrad, Stalin’s purges, and beyond.
At the heart of this saga stands a young noblewoman, Tonya, as pretty as a porcelain doll, whose actions—and love for an idealistic man—will set off a sweeping story that reverberates across the century....

The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch is a dual-POV historical fiction novel set in Russia and London, that spans the 1917 Revolution, the siege of Leningrad, Stalin’s purges, and more. 

Story Recap:

Rosie has been studying at Oxford University, but when her mother suddenly dies, she finds some hints of a different life her mother lived in Russia.  She takes a job as a researcher in Russian history and goes to Russia for her job, and to find out more about her mother’s secretive past. 

Tonya is a young noblewoman living in Russia on the brink of revolution.  She falls for a young revolutionary, and her actions for the next few decades, change her life and that of so many others.  

My Thoughts:  

I enjoyed this book very much.  I’ll admit I knew next to nothing about Russian history, and I enjoyed learning much more through this book.  The way these characters survived through the different phases of Russia and endured the changes to their culture and way of life was fascinating to read.  

Both timelines were equally fascinating, and I kept wondering if and how they are connected.  I was surprised by the ending and how the two stories were connected.  I like that the more modern timeline was set in Russia in the early 90s just after it was opened up, and we also see the chaos of change through Rosie’s eyes.  

I found the writing beautiful and the story engaging.  I needed to know what happens next and found myself staying up late to find out.  I loved the way the author included Russian fairy tales to help tell the story.  


I highly recommend The Last Russian Doll to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Kristen Loesch

Kristen Loesch grew up in San Francisco. She holds a BA in History, as well as a Master’s degree in Slavonic Studies from the University of Cambridge. Her debut historical novel, THE LAST RUSSIAN DOLL, was shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award and longlisted for the Bath Novel Award under a different title. After a decade living in Europe, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.

UK Cover and Title:

In the UK, The Last Russian Doll is titled The Porcelain Doll.

Book Challenges:

The Last Russian Doll counts towards my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023

26 responses to “Book Review: The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch

  1. I only know a little about Russian history that involves WWII timelines. I have no clue about history before that. This sounds amazing.

  2. I have the physical book the publisher sent me just sitting next to my reading chair begging to be read. I find that time poignantly fascinating. Excellent review!

  3. Wonderful review Wendy! This sounds like a great story and the cover is so beautiful. The UK cover doesn’t draw me in quite like the first one does, but it’s still very nice!

  4. Great review, Wendy! I adore dual-POV historical fiction and I do know a little bit about Russian history. I’m nowhere an expert, though, so that alone would make this a compelling read for me. I think I would really enjoy this story!