this book was poignant and beautifully written. It brought tears to my eyes to see the purity of love between two people so young, yet so scarred by life already. AND...it was left WIDE OPEN for a sequel! I am waiting to see!
While the title is very misleading (the main character may be Russian, but at no time is she anyone's concubine), it's a very good story. Coming of age for a young woman in an international settlement, in the beginning of Communist China. So, it not only deals with her personal conflicts, but the social/political situation as well. It is well-balanced so that part isn't overwhelming to the main part of the story.
The Russian Concubine is a moving tale of a young russian girl who meets a chinese boy and falls in love despite the objections and dangers involved with their relationship. This is an amazing tale of love, loss and poverty and will tug at your heartstrings, make you cringe with disgust, and keep you engaged from cover to cover.
It's been a long time since I've found a book that I couldn't put down. This one did it for me and is now near the top of my favorites list.
This is a good read in the Gabaldon tradition; well developed characters, believeable in their settings. I especially enjoyed the unusual time period and locale that is the setting for this novel--pre-Communist revolutionary China in 1928, against the background of expat White Russians who fled from the 1917 revolution in Russia and are now in the midst of the same fever in China.
I am confused about the title of this book. This book is about 17 year old Lydia who falls in love with Chang. Lydia lives in a whites-only part of a Russian town. Chang is a Chinese communist that is wanted by the police. Chang gets severely injured, and Lydia nurses him back to health. They fall in love, however, they both know that they cannot be together without the danger of being killed. I thought the book was a little difficult to read. I thought that it kind of rambled on and on. If you like historical fiction with a little romance, then this book is for you.
Among the many stories, books, films and more that I've seen/read about 1940s Germany and Natzi times, I hadn't experienced this perspective. To stay true to one's core values and beliefs while sacrificing during daily life is a huge feat. It gives hope that anything is possible as long as one never loses sight of the ultimate goal.
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I started to get to know the characters more, I found myself sucked in. To be honest, I was expecting this book to be more sexy and less story. I was dead wrong. This is more a historical fiction and character study than a romance. It does have some romance, but the setting in time and the events surrounding the romance take center stage. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a dash of romance featuring a strong female lead.
I absolutely loved this book. Lydia escaped from Russia with her mother in 1928 to an international community in China. Although Lydia's mother is a beauty and an exceptional pianist as well as an alcoholic, she is an unpapered Russian which means she must servive through her own means. Lydia explores her world and become involved with a young Chinese communist once he saves her from the white slave market. Their infatuation of each other soons turns to love as they cross paths with each other as well as with some very scary characters. The characters are well developed and in the end I was left wanting to know more of their lives. I am looking forward to Furnivall's next novel.
This story is set in the 20's when Mao and Chiang Kai-shek are battling it out for China. At first I thought it was just a book about puppy love and a willfull, spoiled girl but then it got better and better and better.
Not as good as the Jewel of St. Petersburg but that may have been because it seemed like there were TOO many characters and plot twists. I really love Ms. Furnivall's writing so I'm hoping for something more in Girl from Junchow... PS. The Red Scarf was really great except for the gypsy/magic angle...that was a little weird.
It's 1928, and Lydia Ivanova is coming of age in Junchow, a whites-only international settlement in China. Times are tough, and Lydia recalls little of her former life in Russia. Her family was wealthy there, among the Russian elite, until the Bolsheviks stole everything, including her father's life. Her mother, a former concert pianist, saved Lydia's life and escaped with her to Junchow. Now, they barely scrape by in a town torn by political unrest. Lydia now cares for her mother in a place full of thieves, a class system, and oppression. Still, nothing can stop Lydia from living life the way she wants to, especially after she meets and falls in love with Chang An Lo, a Chinese communist.
When reading The Russian Concubine, I was torn between wanting to read it slowly to savor every detail and wanting to finish it quickly to quell the suspense. Kate Furnivall paints vivid, lovely pictures with her story. She has a way of captivating human senses and emotions that make the reader truly experience the novel. The Russian Concubine is part coming-of-age story, part- Romeo and Juliet, and part Russian and Chinese history lesson. Through Lydia's determined eyes and untamed spirit, I could finally understand the motivations of the first Chinese communism movement and the struggles of foreigners in International Settlements. There are several sub-plots and secondary characters, but Furnivall weaves them together gracefully and leaves the reader wanting to learn more about all of the people in Junchow.
What becomes of the love between Lydia and Chang An Lo? Is Lydia able to live the life she dreams of and save her family from dreary, dangerous Junchow? Read the Russian Concubine to find out- you won't be disappointed!
My 21 y.o. daughter read this one first and loved it, so it is of interest to various age readers. This is a time period that few of us know anything about. I thought the book was very interesting, delving into class, race and history; all subjects that are timeless, add intrigue, suspense and romance and there is something for everyone. There is depth to the story, so not one that will be mindlessly read at the beach.
Interesting book and a relatively quick read. The history of China was informative but not sure how detailed the research was by the author. Enjoyed the all the charactors and the way the book ended I can only hope there is a secule.
I read a lot of Russian History and came across this book. A story about Russian emigres in China just before Communist takeover of China, it largely focuses on the love story of Lydia and Chang. However, if you go deeper it also relates the take of the displaced Russian emigre after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. [For those who may have missed it, the title refers to the mother and "payments" to a wealthy man for her and her daughter's well-being. She is in China, hence the term concubine. I will not post more for fear of giving up the plot.] Anyway, not bad historical fiction. I would suggest her other story about the gulag, The Red Scarf. Although there are some historical leeway in that one, if you enjoyed this one, you probably will enjoy that one as well.
After savoring THE JEWEL OF ST. PETERSBURG a couple of weeks ago, I just had to get my hands on this sequel! I wasn't disappointed, but I must say that I didn't enjoy THE RUSSIAN CONCUBINE quite as much. The setting was no less tumultuous, due to the revolutionary times, but for me Junchow, China just wasn't quite as intoxicating as St. Petersburg, Russia; and young Lydia Ivanova wasn't nearly as enchanting as her mother Valentina had been at the same age.
However, I did still get caught up in the lives of Lydia and Chang, and their intense love story! And despite their being a few Harlequin-over-the-top spots, I truly felt their deep love and devotion for one another.
Though many of her actions and motivations were understandable, I didn't like what the loss of Jens did to Valentina. In Junchow, she is merely a shadow of the woman we came to know and love in St. Petersburg.
Lydia was quite annoying at times, but she was also a typical hot-headed, know-it-all teenager in love.
Theo the schoolmaster was the other lead character, and although he was quite complex, he wasn't necessarily all that likable. I don't mind leaving him and his life behind in Junchow.
I continue to praise Kate Furnivall's wonderful ability to bring the reader right into the time and place. The characters pop out of the pages and take on three dimensions in her action-packed writing style. And I do look forward to reading the final book in the trilogy, THE GIRL FROM JUNCHOW!
(And I agree with other reviewers about the title, THE RUSSIAN CONCUBINE doesn't seem to make any sense at all.)
Very good and informative book about the time period in Russia and China. It was an easy read; the plot was thick with action, subtleties and mystery. I am looking forward to reading more of this author! Lizardclaw
This book is so totally like nothing I would have read on my own, someone from my book club chose it. It's historical fiction. But it's pretty light on the historical stuff, so it wasn't too bad. The author's writing style is very nice, but she's a little too wordy - 50 pages of this 517 page book could have easily been cut, if not more. I found the Chang love story to be ridiculous. I'm sorry, I'm not that far up on my history, but there's no way that story is even half way plausible, no one escapes that much. LOL.
I would have liked to have read more about Lydia and her mother. I don't understand why it has the title it has. I feel like I missed something in this book. Perhaps reading it over the holidays wasn't the smartest decision, I dunno. I'll have to see if I'm the only one that went away wondering about the title. I frequently miss subtle things though. I need in your face! ;)
Anyway, a decent read. If you like historical fiction, you might like this, but if you are a stickler or wordy writers or sub plots that are completely unbelievable, you might want to skip it. Again, the author has a beautiful writing style... I believe this might be her first book though, so I'm willing to give her next one another shot (as long as it's NOT a sequel). ;)