A novel by Alexandra Lapierre - Flammarion, Marsh 2016
In the upheaval of the Bolchevist revolution, from one world war to the next, Moura has crossed a thousand of worlds. An aristocrat with Russian origins, she was called Maria Zakrevskaïa, Madame Benckendorff, Baroness Budberg… She was a British agent’s lover, Maxim Gorki’s muse, H. G. Wells’ partner, and admired by London’s intelligentsia. She socialized with the twentieth century’s finest: the Tsar, Staline, Churchill and de Gaulle.
Adored by those she loved, despised by those who found her elusive, Moura did indeed exist.
Some sung her courage, her warmth and her loyalty. Others denounced her lies. But all agreed on the same point: Moura embodied life. Life at all costs.
On her heroine’s footsteps, Alexandra Lapierre has made researches in libraries around the world for three years. She has slipped into her character’s contradictions to paint this wonderful portrait of a woman. Her talent as a novelist and her eye, both lucid and kind, brings life to a great many captivating figures, whom shed some light on some great historical moments.
is known for her rigorous research and the humanity of her characters.
Her books bring back to life the figures of great women neglected by history. She is notably the author of Fanny Stevenson
(Grand Prix des lectrices de ELLE), Artemisia
(which was awarded the Prix du XVIIe siècle and “Book of the week” by the BBC), Elles ont conquis le monde : les grandes aventurières, 1850-1950
and Je te vois reine des quatre parties du monde
(Prix Historia of the best historical novel 2013), translated worldwide.
"You were looking for a great book this winter, you have found it this spring with Moura
: an amazing story with a stunning character!"
Franck Ferrand, Au cœur de l’Histoire
of March 2016.
"When Alexandra Lapierre gets her grip on a forgotten woman, you can be sure that she will turn her heroin into a fascinating lady.
, her last book, is both powerful and inspired, fast and passionate.
Lapierre at her best."
Christine Oddo, ELLE
of March 2016.
"A schorlaly biography and a novel at once: a fabulous book, sworming with discoveries, unknown facts and unpublished documents. Seven hundred passionate pages."
Dominique Bona de l’Académie française, Version Femina
of April 2016.
"This dashing and fascinating novel reads the very way Moura lived: in a gallop!"
Thierry Gandillot, Les Echos
of April 2016.
"An unforgetable portrait of a lady
Philippe Vallet, Le livre du Jour, France Info
, 6th of April 2016
"Alexandra Lapierre plunges with an enthousiasm that becomes a contagious passion, into the heart and soul of a woman who embodied the whole of the XXth
century, with its cultural wealth and its complexity. The result is a three dimensional portrait of a great lady. A dense and captivating narrative."
Mohammed Aissaoui, Le Figaro Littéraire
of April 2016.
In order to recreate Moura’s captivating story, Alexandra Lapierre has undertaken a colossal research and written a prodigious book. For sure, Moura
will be THE book of the summer 2016.
Pierre Vavasseur, Le Parisien
of April 2016.
With her indubitable talent, Alexandra Lapierre narrates the destiny of one of the most fanciful and outlandish characters of the 20th century.
Marianne Payot, l’Express
of May 2016.
Through the story of a life like no other, Alexandra Lapierre unveils a fascinating aspect of the 1920s Russia, where rivalries between Bolshevist masters and Western manoeuvres intertwine. The novelist brings a literary dimension to historical protagonists, without ever compromising the era’s authenticity, fruit of a rigorous research, and succeeds in maintaining the delicate balance between truth and emotion. Her heroine, to whom contradictory intentions are ascribed, likes to mingle adventure, politics and love. And that is precisely how Moura becomes so human. For this splendid seductress is the very incarnation of the Russian soul in all that it contains of ferocity, elusiveness and extravaganza.
Theresa Revay, Le Magazine Littéraire
, May-June 2016.
You will fall under the spell of this incredible Russian novel.
Claire Julliard, L’Obs
of May 2016.
You devour this novel the same way Moura devoured Life: voraciously.
Fierce, dense, complex, boisterous, romantic, in fury and in blood, she loves breathlessly. And my God, does it feel good to meet women like her!
Françoise Cazalis, Valeurs Actuelles
of June 2016.
Of course she did exist! We all know Alexandra Lapierre’s scolarly precision. Her mind-blowing novel is indeed based on archives to which Lapierre gives life. Here is Moura, whom her admirers condidered the most intelligent woman of her generation
. A true heroine.
Stéphanie des Horts, Côté Ouest
, June-July 2016.
Paris diary by Laure de Gramont
As some of you already know, I have decided to resume what I was writing for Vogue and Point de Vue some years ago, but this time as a blog. I would like it to be like a morning phone call to my best friend, a very personal and subjective view of Paris life for all of you who are curious of what's going on in France. I now have readers on five continents, from the Philippines to Tasmania, Perth and Sydney. From Mexico to California, New York, Washington and Canada. Morocco, Egypt and most European countries. Thank you !
“Moura”, a true adventuress
For her eleventh book, French novelist Alexandra Lapierre has picked the most extravagant and moving Russian heroin and has traveled around Europe, Estonia and Russia for three years, digging into archives, secret service files from England, France, Germany and Russia, and aristocrat’s clubs. The life of Moura Benckendorff, who lived through the Russian Revolution, loved Gorki, H.G. Wells and a charming British diplomat, Robert Bruce Lockhart, is one of her most achieved novels.
She is wilder than Fanny Stevenson or Artemisia Gentileschi, she is more adventurous than William Petty or conquistadora Dona Isabel Barreto, she is in love with three men at the same time and devoted to each one of them! She is probably the most modern and mysterious of Lapierre‘s heroins and was the subject of a film, « British Agent » by Michael Curtiz. Her life story cannot be put down.
This is again a long novel, which builds up with Moura’s adventures with many different men. Is she a spy for the Brits, the Germans or the Russians or all three of them ? Alexandra Lapierre does not think so, but she definitely is a diplomat and a go-between, who interests all secret services. At the book launch, the author told us "what I would discover about Moura, would be way beyond my wildest dreams".
She manages to live through International events with no money but great elegance, and to fascinate all intellectuals of her time. She is an aristocrat who loves men and life. The book is a fantastic read and the day after I finished it, I suddenly felt I had lost my new best friend. A whole world of dreaming, loving and conspiring set in Naples, London, St Petersburg and Paris had suddenly vanished.
This is Alexandra Lapierre’s most adventurous novel to date for she has put a true character in the limelight. And when you learn that Moura was British Lib Dem Nick Clegg‘s great aunt, you will want to read it even more! (“Moura, la Mémoire incendiée”, Flammarion)