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The Russian concubine by Kate Furnivall

The Russian concubine (2006)

by Kate Furnivall

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Overall, I enjoyed it. The author has a very sensual style of writing; tastes, sights, sounds, textures, smells ... it's all there in vivid detail making it very easy to lose yourself in the setting of the story - war-torn China during the early 1900's. The characters, while not as strong as the setting, were believable enough. I've read a lot of reviews where the people complained about the main character's lack of morals, but I found her true to the situation in which she was raised. The plot was sufficiently meaty right up until the end, then the whole thing sorta petered out and left me feeling cheated. Fortunately, there's a sequel - The Girl from Junchow. ( )
  kjpmcgee | Sep 9, 2015 |
Well, this book was like a long, long trip. With nothing happening during most of it. Though I have to say, I honestly don't think I was expecting much of it.

The book is very, very slow-paced which, for a historical fiction, shouldn't really be so surprising. But what really displeased me about it is the narrative itself. I thought that the historical content was introduced into the story in a very forceful way, to the point that the characters mixed their little love dialogue with thoughts about politics and the Communism.

I can't really say I cared about the characters. At all. Maybe among them Valentina was the most intriguing character, but very little was told about her (and for a book with over 500 pages, you can't really say there wasn't enough space to shove in a bit more of her story). Later I found that there is a prequel to this book that actually tells Valentina's story, but I don't think I care enough about her to actually want to read the book.

The book didn't really catch my attention until I got to the 300th page, which is... well, bad. If a book needs 300 pages to sell its story, then the pacing of the plot is badly distributed. Not to mention the fact that a couple of things were left unexplained by the end of the book.

The only real reward for going through this book was actually when I finished reading the last page (and, by the way, the book ends in a sort of a cliffhanger - and if you actually like the book as it is, I would not recommend reading the summary for the book The Girl From Junchow, for it contains spoilers), closed the book and considered the reading "complete". ( )
  aryadeschain | Jul 24, 2015 |
I agree with many people who commented here - why the title. There were no concubines in the true sense of the word. Enjoyed the book though. ( )
  alisonb60 | Jan 20, 2014 |
Lydia Ivanova and her mother fled war-torn Russia as the Communists came into power and wound up in China with no passports and very little hope. But 16-year-old Lydia is a survivor and finds ways to make ends meet. One day she meets Chang An Lo, a Chinese Communist who saves her life. The sparks are instant, but the cultural divide is huge.

This is another book that I wanted to give more stars to. I tore through it, breathlessly waiting to see what happened next. Overall, I wasn't disappointed. It was a solid story with enough twists and turns to keep me interested. But there was one HUGE thing that I can't let go.

*************************SLIGHT SPOILER********************************

Why on earth was the title of this book The Russian Concubine? Is my definition of concubine wrong? I did not see any concubines, Russian, Chinese, or otherwise, in this story anywhere. Was it just a ploy to make us think it was racier than it was? I don't get it.

****************************END SPOILER*********************************

There were a few other threads that weren't tied up at all, beyond the obvious fact that a sequel will be coming.

So, this was enjoyable, and maybe the problems I saw were things that I just missed. I was in bed with a cold as I read it, after all. I've asked the questions I had in a group here, hoping someone can explain what I missed. That may make me change my mind. But right now, it was a good book that could have been better. I will look for the sequel though.

( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
Present from the birthday RABCK group 2012.
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 31, 2013 |
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In memory of my mother, Lily Furnivall, whose story inspired my own. With love.
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The train growled to a halt.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 042521558X, Paperback)

A sweeping novel set in war-torn 1928 China, with a star-crossed love story at its center.

In a city full of thieves and Communists, danger and death, spirited young Lydia Ivanova has lived a hard life. Always looking over her shoulder, the sixteen-year-old must steal to feed herself and her mother, Valentina, who numbered among the Russian elite until Bolsheviks murdered most of them, including her husband. As exiles, Lydia and Valentina have learned to survive in a foreign land.

Often, Lydia steals away to meet with the handsome young freedom fighter Chang An Lo. But they face danger: Chiang Kai Shek's troops are headed toward Junchow to kill Reds like Chang, who has in his possession the jewels of a tsarina, meant as a gift for the despot's wife. The young pair's all-consuming love can only bring shame and peril upon them, from both sides. Those in power will do anything to quell it. But Lydia and Chang are powerless to end it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:48 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In 1928, Lydia Ivanova and her mother struggle to make ends meet in China's whites-only International Settlement, where Lydia meets Chang An Lo, who endangers Lydia's life when his anti-communist activities draw the attention of the government, leaving him to trust Lydia to protect the priceless jewels he has stolen.… (more)

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