“If she could only pray—but progressive women didn’t pray” (p. 4)This sentence manifests the overall pattern of posing and pretension and fictitious idealism prevalent in the Russian society in Czar’s time during 1870s. Varvara Suvorova was depicting just an element of this social behavior. When she took a journey to meet Romania for certain reasons, she was caught in the horns of dilemma during her travel. The hard conditions of travel have shaken her self-confidence and she even stopped at dirty places to take rest and feed her horses.
Akunin depicts that although Varvara was in utter despair she was unable to cast away her pre-conceived notions of social class and its pretentious and ostentatious lifestyle. Her society social conventions and class compulsion had made it a habitual formation for her to negate religious thoughts and actions as praying was considered an activity of common folks with no social status and independence of thought.This fictitious idealism is demonstrated at the very start of the novel when Emperor Alexander charges the spirits of his army men by providing them the notions of raising over the cross over Saint Sophia in Constantinople. His sole motive to get victory over Ottoman Empire is to get territorial and political benefits but he poses the great causes to motivate his soldiers. Furthermore, Varvara did not pay heed to any of the soldiers’ convictions except for one who manifests the same social class of Varvara and reads Lamartine and Schpenhauer. Here Varvara only provides him the honor of company due to his reading habits and not his true personality and personal traits. This sentence further depicts the general trend in Akunin writing that he portrayed the women an epitome of frailty and fabrications.