Saturday, February 6, 2010

Show Me 5 Saturday: The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

Alipet813 at That's a novel idea started a new MEME called Show Me Five Saturday. Unfortunately, our host is missing in action but Jenners puts up a Mr. Linky if you would like to play along. This meme will give each blogger an opportunity to give a brief description of a book they have read or reviewed during the week. It will work like this: Each Saturday you will post the answer to these questions. This week I am going to add part of the publisher's synopsis so you have an idea of the basic premise:

From the author's web site: "The Russian Concubine is a sweeping epic love-story. Exiled from Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution, the beautiful and fiery Lydia and her aristocratic mother have taken refuge in Junchow, China, in 1928. On the edge of destitution, Lydia uses her wits to survive and resorts to stealing. She is saved from certain death by a young Chinese Communist, Chang An Lo, and together they are thrust into clashes with savage triads. Lydia and Chang fall in love and are swept up in a fight against prejudice and shame. Forced to face opium-running, betrayal and kidnap, their compelling attraction to each other is tested to the limits in this story of love and loss, secrets and lies."

1. Title of book you read or reviewed this week : The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

2. Words that describe the book: literary fiction

3. Location or characters you met:

  • Lydia Ivanova: 16 year old Russian refugee who meets and falls in love with 19 year old communist despite their cultural and ideological differences. A most determined young lady who does what it takes to survive and whose depth of feelings for Chang An Lo belie her young age. She is willing to risk her own life to save Chang's.
  • Valentina: Lydia's mother and a former concert pianist who after the Bolsheviks had taken everything away from her family and shot her husband right in front of her eyes, she managed to travel to Junchow, China to live in the International Settlement with other White Russians. The only thing Russian she seems to have an affinity for is vodka. Valentina harbors some great secrets of her own but always with the welfare of her daughter in mind although sometimes it does not seem that way. She has her own ideas of how a woman in her circumstances must survive and is not above using her wiles to achieve her goals.
  • Chang An Lo: 19 year old very dedicated young communist who saves Lydia from the Black Snake Brotherhood and immediately falls for her although he knows loving a "foreign devil" will most likely lead to complications and put them both at risk if not complete disaster.

4. Things you liked about the book:

  • The depth of the characters' personalities, their thoughts, wants and desires were perfectly executed and beautifully written.
  • The vivid, lush descriptions of the locations and people in the story
  • The multi plot lines that overlapped and neatly converged with fully fleshed out characters both minor and main kept me entralled from page one to the end.
  • The historical aspect of the book was fascinating and well woven into the storyline.

5. stars or less for a rating: Using my put down/pick up criteria I rate this book 5 ***** as I absolutely loved it and did not want to put it down at all.

Disclosure: a review copy of the book was provided by the county library system. Thanks to my tax dollars!


  1. This is definitely on my "must read" list. Thanks for a great review, Kaye.

  2. I'm glad you loved this. I'm requesting this from the library now

  3. This was a wonderful book. Be sure to read the sequel The Girl From Junchow that continues Lydia's story.

  4. wow, doesn't get better than that, does it? I will have to keep my eye open for this one.

  5. I'm so excited to see that you rated this one so high because I grabbed it for 50 cents from a library sale!!!

  6. I'm glad you got something worthwhile for your tax dollars! Woo hoo! Always lovely to see a 5 star read for someone!


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