Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Review- The Jewel of St. Petersburg by Kate Furnivall
This is the most beautiful book that I have read in a long time. I loved it- and I was surprised to find that this book is a prequel to two other books about Valentina's daughter, Lydia, in China. I kind of wish that I had read the other two books first, in the order that they were written, but my library does not have them.
The Jewel of St. Petersburg is set in Russia during the revolution. The story spans approximately 10 years, so a lot happens. The characters, even and especially the supporting characters, are richly developed and you can sympathize with even the antagonists.
Although this book is full of beautiful, luxurious descriptions, there are also heartbreaking, disgusting pieces, which probably perfectly reflects Russia during this time.
This IS a star-crossed lovers book, which you can tell from reading the back cover, but it's a lot more than that. How can Valentina balance her desire for love with her duty to her family? Is love the only thing she needs? What about power? I wish that I had been able to use quotes from this book during my diversity class- it deals with gender/sex issues well. Here's a passage that I particularly appreciated:
"...Take this advice from an old campaigner. Use your weapons."
"The greatest of all, my dear. Your beauty."
"Do you know what the strongest weapon is?" she asked him in the pitch darkness. "One I will never possess."
"Being born a man."
He chuckled, low in his throat. She sensed him nodding acknowledgment that she was right.
One warning- don't read the sneak peek of the next book, The Russian Concubine, unless you plan on reading it immediately. It quickly undoes all of the tied up ends of the book and might make you a little bit crazy.
5 stars- this is an excellent and engaging piece of historical fiction.