Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Jewel of St Petersburg by Kate Furnival: Book Review

The Jewel of St Petersburg
by Kate Furnival
ISBN: 978-0-425-23423-5

Description: Russia, 1910. Young Valentina Ivanova charms St Petersburg's aristocracy with her classic Russian beauty and her talent as a pianist. She scandalizes society when she begins a romance with Jens Friis, a Danish engineer. He brings to her life a passion and an intimacy she has never known. Unbending in their opposition, her parents push her into a loveless engagement with a Russian count. Valentina struggles for independence and to protect her young sister from the tumult sweeping the city, as Russia is bound for rebellion. The Tsar, the Duma and the Bolsheviks are at each others throats. Valentina is forced to make a choice that changes her life for ever ...

The Good Stuff
  • Exciting opening chapter, grabs your attention and makes you want to keep reading
  • Descriptions of the scenery are breathtakingly written, you feel you could reach out and touch the landscape
  • Epic story up there with Gone with the Wind, The Thorn Birds, etc. If this isn't made into a movie I will be totally surprised
  • Couldn't put the book down and now I am dying to get my hands on a copy of The Russian Concubine
  • Realistic characters dealing with horrendous choices and struggling in a changing world
  • Author really lets you see both sides of the revolution with very little sympathy or judgment for either side

The Not so Good Stuff
  • A little dry in spots, but not overly so
  • After exciting first 2 chapters, it dies a little and takes a little while to get going again. Don't give up though, it really does grab you again
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"It was something by Chopin, one of his least favorite composers, always so plaintive, so full of despair, whining in your ear like a cat in heat."

"The truth of what a person believed and the truth of what they said were two different things.  There was no hard-and fast line to draw under it because it shifted between shadows and sunlight."

"What kind of justice was that? What kind of equality, the weak devoured by the strong?"

What I Learned
  • A lot about Russian history
  • About both sides of revolution
  • War is hell and no one ever wins -- well I already knew that -- why the hell can't anyone learn from history
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Lovers of historical fiction, especially early 1900 Russian history will enjoy
  • Lovers of epic emotionally rich stories will also love
  • Trying to think of who wouldn't like this kind of story, probably those who need non stop action might be disappointed 
Jake and I made Russian Tea Cookies to celebrate this book, will post the pictures later today
    4.5 Deweys

    I received this from Penguin in return for an honest review


    1. Love the cover and your review. Why can't people ever learn from history?

    2. Hello

      Liked this review - I haven't read this book but have read The Russian Concubine and The Concubine's Secret (oh dear, seem to have read them in the wrong order). I thought the Russian Concubine was the better of the two to be honest. Hope you enjoy it.

    3. My niece and sister agree with you too Lynn - they preferred the Russian Concubine better too. I keep forgetting to grab the books from my sister when we visit -- thanks for the reminder : )