Princess Olga Karukhin was lying on her back in her bed, a narrow iron contraption with a hard mattress. The khaki greatcoat and blankets which served for covers were scarcely raised by her bony old body. Her grey head rested on a greyer pillow, across which a sluggish winter fly crawled by stops and starts, attracted by the greasiness of the shawl wrapped round her shoulders. Princess Karukhina once had been used to lying in a carved bed inlaid with mother-of-pearl, between silk sheets changed daily, covered with down quilts and white furs. The walls of her lofty bedroom, sprayed constantly with rosewater, had been set with Wedgwood jasper plaques. Whole pelts of Polar bears had lain like ice floes on the glassy floor. The dark cramped room where she now lay was both sleeping and living room. The walls were shoulder-rubbed, the single rug curled at the corners, there was a pervasive smell of biscuits gone soft. The door of a wardrobe hung askew above the wedge of newspaper that had held it shut; in its mirror a tilted reflection of window and sky was dimming to a London dusk.
In the midst of this squalor the Princess lay still, absolutely still. Even when the inquisitive fly crept into her ear she did not stir. She did not feel it, for she was dead.
Ok, this is a strong start to the book, but it is only the opening paragraph and I'll need to see if the book delivers what the start promises.
I have no idea what the story will be about but the hint at a Russian princess make me expect Faberge eggs.
Oh, and it may just be that this could work for the Russian Mothers' Day book task.
The Book does work for the task - Princess Olga Karukhin, whose story this is, was a mother.