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Publisher's Summary

The Man from St Petersburg is a dark tale of family secrets and political consequences. Ken Follett's masterful storytelling brings to life the danger of a world on the brink of war.

It is just before the outbreak of World War I, and Britain must enlist the aid of Russia. Czar Nicholas' nephew is to visit London for secret naval talks with Lord Walden, who has lived in Russia and has a Russian wife, Lydia. But there are other people who are interested in the arrival of Prince Alexei: the Waldens' only daughter, Charlotte - wilful, idealistic, and with an awakening social conscience; Basil Thompson, head of the Special Branch; and, above all, Feliks Kschessinky, the ruthless Russian anarchist. No one could have foretold that Lydia should recognize Feliks or that she might put her own daughter's life at risk for his sake.

As the secret negotiations progress, the destinies of these characters become ineluctably enmeshed. And as Europe prepares for the catastrophe of war, the final private tragedy which will shatter the complacency of the Waldens is acted out.

©2018 Ken Follett (P)2018 Macmillan Digital Audio

What listeners say about The Man from St Petersburg

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Delayed suspense

This is not one of those many wonderful Ken Follett stories which lead you, almost from the outset, on an almost unbearable journey of high drama and suspense. Though well written and cleverly set in a time of momentous political and international events, it takes most of the novel to work up to a sensational climax. On the way there, it is rather plodding. Frequent flash backs do not help. I frequently felt the need to fast forward.

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Do not waste your money

Unfortunately purchased because Armitage is wonderful. You won't get back wasted time reading this rubbish

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Brilliant, a true Ken Follett novel

Is this really more than fiction ? In typical Ken Follett style the formula works to bring together action, action and more action in waves of highs and lows weaving a great story.

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An interesting fiction

A good listen. Worth the time spent. Richard Armitage is a good narrator. good to see Follett still writing.

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A gripping tale based on real people and history

A gripping tale based on real people and history told with warmth and sympathy for the heroes as well as the villains. Typical Ken Follett. Wonderful entertaining. .

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-10-2018

Fantastic!

Amazing book with loveable, captivating characters, dynamic story and great twists :) Ken Follett never disappoints :) And neither does Richard Armitage, who read the book with ferocity and dedication which does justice to the autor <3

1 person found this helpful

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  • Callie
  • 17-09-2018

Armitage at his (villainous 😉) best!

Richard Armitage has a knack for humanizing characters typically thought of as “bad guys” and he does so here with Felix, the antagonist. He voices all the characters, male and female, in a sympathetic and convincing manner. The result is a gripping listen where you are able to understand and empathize with all sides of the story. I will definitely listen again!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-12-2019

Excellent

I could not stop listening to this book. The story is excellent, and Armitage did a supreme work giving each character a depth so is really easy to get a mental image of them and identify them along the dialogues.

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  • Julia
  • 28-08-2018

Just great!! Thank you Audible

Great story and fabulous performance by Richard Armitage. Loved it very much. Can't recommend it enough.

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  • JD
  • 23-08-2018

Great Read! Great Reader!

This was an enjoyable read. A book set pre WWI is not usually my novel of choice but my lack of familiarity gave me some interesting insights into both historical characters and political situations. I found it a 'page-turner' and it bowled along at a cracking pace, culminating in a great set piece which I could easily envisage because Ken Follett writes well and in exciting detail. My great-great aunt was a suffragette and so I enjoyed meeting Mrs Pankhurst, listening in on her speeches and learning about the maltreatment of the marchers and protestors. KF has us sympathising with all his characters - even the villain - because we see the world through their eyes. A satisfying ending. The reader, Richard Armitage, was so good that I found myself binge-listening in one weekend. He has a superb voice and does some lovely accents - various cultured upper-class ones, including a youngish Winston Churchill, Cockney, Russian, Irish, Northern. Even his teenage girls sound right. I have a feeling that his reading has made the book seem better than it actually is but I shall give it 5 stars nevertheless because of the enjoyability factor. Recommended.

23 people found this helpful

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  • bookylady
  • 01-09-2018

What a Great Story

I rattled through this story and found it hugely enjoyable and entertaining. I suspect that Ken Follett must have done a lot of research about the events leading up to the Great War and the Suffragette and the Russian anarchist movements before setting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard.) It certainly made for an informative read. The story is set against the backdrop of the political situation in Europe prior to the First World War and the involvement of Winston Churchill in both the political struggle of the Suffragettes and also the British government's pre-war negotiations with Tsar Nicholas. An aristocrat and ex-politician, the Earl of Walden, is persuaded by Churchill to negotiate with the Tsar's favourite nephew Alexei in order to achieve an Anglo-French-Russian alliance against the re-arming German government. The Earl's wife, Lydia, is Russian and the Tsar's nephew also happens to be her cousin, so all seems set fair for an uneventful negotiation. But Lydia has a secret past which is unknown to the Earl and their spirited daughter Charlotte develops a keen interest in Votes for Women and social justice when she witnesses a scandalous declaration of support for imprisoned Suffragettes during a debutante presentation ceremony at Court. Lydia's past life in St.Petersburg comes to haunt her and the Walden family when Feliks, an anarchist sent to kill Alexei and provoke revolution in Russia, discovers her connection to the negotiations and her role in his personal and political misfortunes in the intervening years since they last met. Charlotte, in her burgeoning desire to bring about change within her privileged life and equality within society, becomes embroiled with Feliks and the scene is set for heartbreaking discoveries, fear of discovery, terrorist acts and a shocking conclusion This was a well-plotted and beautifully characterised novel, told in a sympathetic and spell-binding voice. Richard Armitage, the narrator, has a fantastic range of voices for the male and female characters and it was deeply satisfying to sit back and listen to the story in huge chunks. Just lovely. Top marks on the narration.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Andrea Gideon
  • 24-08-2018

Great story, excellently read

Great story, like all Ken Follett books. Well researched. Nuanced characters. Excellently read. It's great that they finally made this unabridged version.

11 people found this helpful

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  • LAJ
  • 07-11-2018

Fast-paced and exciting, with great narration

I really enjoyed this audio book. The characters were interesting and the plot bowled along like an exciting adventure, with lots of small detail that added to the sense of realism. The ending was satisfying and dramatic. Richard Armitage’s narration was excellent, as always, bringing urgency, tenderness and fierceness to the listening experience.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-11-2018

gripping stuff!

this was my first Ken Follet and I will be back for more. Fascinating interweaving of history and personal drama and Mr. Armitage never fails to do the writing justice with his narration.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Phoenix
  • 23-02-2019

Historical, romance, drama... Everything you need!

Absolutely loved this book! Will be getting more of his work. Brilliantly read by Armitage as always!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-11-2020

Excellent reading of a poor story

Uhm? I'm not sure what I just listened to. (Spoilers ahead.) I picked up this book thinking it was going to be a great political thriller about the start of 1914, that usual secret history stuff. It started out like that too, with a fabulous opening scene. It went very well onwards, up to the first assasination attempt. Afterward, I felt it all became very contrived, and the storyline with Lydia so incredibly forced and dull that I wince just to think about it. The same points get repeated again and again, as if we could ever forget what had happened 19 years ago etc. and I found no sympathy for her at all. This eventually extended to Charlotte too when she got so wound up in her own silliness and supposed 'independence'. My favourite character was Lord Walden of course, and it felt very painful to watch his family turn against him. It really feels as if the women especially take so little action in their lives and just fall into the same bad habits that it pained me to my core. Their arcs were weak and predictable, and I cannot believe that the whole family puts aside Feliks' murder of their cousin with such ease at the end. The unrealistic scenarios and how much everyone seemed to fall under Feliks's spell was totally distant to me, I could not understand it. How could Lydia still be so mad for him, after everything? It was honestly really off-putting. Finally, it must be said that I am surprised how everyone in this story is both blind and a clairvoyant. They can all work things out so clearly, as if they were the narrator themselves, but also blind to the extremely obvious. The end did not feel like closure, especially as we had an arc where the Walden parents were getting closer. It was confused, clumsy and too many 'hot topics' of the era were stuffed into it. I cannot decide who I disliked more; Charlotte or Lydia! I have read Follett before (Pillars of the Earth) and really enjoyed that. He brought the same attention to detail to the historical reference, culture and 'set' as he did back then, which I anticipated. Richard Armitage is perfect as a narrator, but that's a given.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jack Russell s in France
  • 12-03-2019

Good book

Very enjoyable book, difficult to put down. Little far fetched in places but good story

4 people found this helpful

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  • Paul Craig
  • 17-01-2019

wonderful

I absolutely loved this book. He is such a good writer and this didn't disappoint.

3 people found this helpful

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  • j a gamblen
  • 13-12-2018

Excellent

Ken Follett back to his best. Fantastic listen twists right through to the end. Highly recommended

3 people found this helpful

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