Touted as part "Gone with the Wind," part "Dr. Zhivago," this epic story tells one exceptional woman's triumph over life's obstacles.

Left destitute after her father's death, Countess Alexandra Korvin must marry so she moves from ball to soiree in hopes of snaring a husband. She eventually catches the eye of the roguish Ulyanov, who attempts to pursue her and fails.

With her funds dwindling, a desperate Alexandra disguises herself as a man and joins Ulyanov's regiment to embark on a journey of self-discovery, adventure and a grand passion. She wins a place as a respected soldier and, clandestinely, as his sensual lover.

Scrupski based her lush novel on the life of a real Russian Cavalry woman, Nadezhda Durova. With marvelous description, she creates colorful images of St. Petersburg, the hardships of the serfs, life in the army and a woman of indomitable spirit whose beliefs are quite modern and whose determination admirable.

The use of historical and literary figures as tertiary characters adds a delightful and unique dimension to this story of a remarkable heroine. SENSUAL (May, 443 pp., $24.00)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin