Monday, September 28, 2009

The Russian Concubine

by Kate Furnivall

The Russian Concubine is a complex, beautifully written story about a young Russian girl living with her mother in exile, in Junchow, China. Eleven years after the Russian Revolution, the same turmoil threatens China and Lydia Ivanova is caught in the middle of it.

Her mother drinks away her memories of grand old Russia, while Lydia pickpockets their way to survival. She moves easily between the European and Chinese worlds, saved by her street smarts and how easily she is accepted into polite society. She attends a prestigious private school, but just how her mother affords it, is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the book.

Lydia meets a young Chinese man who is involved in the communist movement. They fall in love, and of course danger is always just around the corner. But, the plot of The Russian Concubine is so much deeper that a simple story of forbidden love. The many layers that make up the story keep unfolding; drawing the reader in, wondering what twist the story can possibly take next. The intertwining of Russian and Chinese history and culture makes this a fascinating book. The characters and the tangled webs their lives form makes for an unforgettable story. The final piece to this wonderful book -- the story is based upon the experiences of the author’s own mother as a Russian refugee in China.

I enjoyed this book so much, I made a special trip to Barnes and Noble the day the sequel was released, just to get it. I was thrilled there was another installment to Lydia’s story, as I was not quite ready to let her live happily ever after.

Rating - A


  1. Jenny,

    I was so happy to read this excellent review, as I just picked this book up at a book sale. THANKS SO MUCH

  2. It sounds like there are many interesting strands of history here. Loved your review! :)