Want more than a superficial reflection.
Needed more of the "holy" less of the "fool"
I so loved The Madonnas Of Leningrad that I may be judging this too harshly. MOL was a multi faceted book (read my review : http://book-file.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/madonnas-of-leningrad-debra-dean.html) that came to life. TMW stays on the page, flat, uninspiring.
I don't mind dark, grim, bleak ... and this setting was all of those things. My problem was that I never felt empathy for the characters, I never felt I was there, I never felt I cared (I finished it just to finish it).
Xenia comes across more as a woman with a broken mind than a saint in the making. While Dean is a lyrical writer, I found the narrative was lacking. We were just provided with tantalising glimpses of Cathrerine's court and the contrasting riches and poverty and we were introduced to Xenia's early life but then followed her cousin to the conclusion. The "holy fool" came across more as a heart-and-mind broken "fool" than a "holy" mystic. I never felt a belief in why Xenia would be sainted (other than her broken-minded generosity).