Friday, September 10, 2010

Jewel in the Rough

'The Jewel of St. Petersburg'
By Kate Furnivall

Format: Paperback
Published: Berkeley Trade; Aug 2010
Pages: 432

Synopsis: Russia, 1910. Valentina Ivanova is the darling of St. Petersburg's elite aristocracy-until her romance with a Danish engineer creates a terrible scandal and her parents push her into a loveless engagement with a Russian count. 

Meanwhile, Russia itself is bound for rebellion. With the Tsar and the Duma at each other's throats, and the Bolsheviks drawing their battle lines, the elegance and opulence of Tsarist rule are in their last days. And Valentina will be forced to make a choice that will change not only her own life, but the lives of those around her forever...
My Take: I'll be honest, I don't read a lot of historical fiction set in Russia. I know about Russian history in the broad sense but specific details might be a little lost on me. I love history though, and historical fiction is one of my favorite genres so when I saw this book I was immediately intrigued by it. An historical fiction book set around the time of the Russian Revolution with a bit of a romance thrown in. I was thinking I could probably like this. I was not disappointed!
However, it did take me the first 80 pages or so to really get into the book so please stick with it! I had to really figure out the political scene here. My mind was a little rusty on the details. Our heroine, Valentina  and her family were immediately attacked by the Bolsheviks when the story opens. Her father is a minister working for the Tsar. You have to kind of figure out who is working for who and why people are so mad at each other. I started this book when I was sleepy so details were instantly murky and there were a lot of details to work out but then you get into the rhythm of it and it all quickly becomes quite easy to follow so don't let me make you think this book is all just about Russian politics because while it will teach you a lot about the politics and the mood of the time, it has so much more...

And that is the romance! Valentina is a spunky Russian female who has very stuffy parents. Her parents want her to tow the line and marry up, marry for money. You know the drill. Valentina is bored. She wants to do something real, become a nurse, help the people. She also falls in love with someone her parents don't really like at all, the Danish engineer Jens. Jens is in Russia building tunnels to help bring water to the whole of the city. Can they be together though or will their parents and/or the politics of the time tear them apart?

Here's what I kept wondering the whole time I was reading this book. Would I have stayed in Russia if I lived during this time and had enough money to leave like Valentina did? Because these poor people were being bombed at ever darn social event they went to, every time they went out shopping. I mean seriously who wants to live like that? I get annoyed when my public services fail me all week like the subway is constantly delayed but if there were bombs on it everyday? I think I might be like, 'you know, maybe we should move somewhere else?' I don't know, it rarely seems to ever cross people's minds until it's almost too late and I know it's their homeland and now we move around a lot more than people used to but geez. Ok I had my say. This book will have you on the edge of your seat because of this political climate and the romance. I loved it and I hope you do too!

There is a sequel to this book: 'The Russian Concubine' which I will definitely be checking out!

(I got this book from Crazy Book Tours)


  1. I don't read many historical novels. Jane Austen is about as wild as I get. ; ) I am glad you are enjoying this series of stories.

    I noticed on your sidebar you are reading A Vintage Affair. I read that this summer, I will be looking forward to your review of the book. Happy Reading.

  2. Great post. I do want to read this one, I think I could like it. And I sure like historicals

  3. Ohhhh...I love the cover of this book. The synopsis sounds very intriguing. I'm glad you told us it took a while to get into - I'll have to keep that in mind when I finally get around to reading it (so many books on my tbr list...) Great review!

  4. I know I would love this book, it is more exciting by being set in Russia. I have been wanting to read it for a long time.


  5. i love the cover on this book. i just recently started reading more historical fiction so i'm going to add this to my tbr list and check it out when i have the time.

  6. i love this cover and i love, love, love Russian history! I'm like you though, rarely do I get into historical fiction, but wow! this one sounds like one i would adore!

  7. The Russian history aspect interests me, so I could tolerate the romance aspect. Even today, some people are really resistant to moving, so I can see someone staying even when things got bad.

  8. I didn't really like The Russian Concubine and hated the sequel, so I will probably skip this one - but it might be better than I expect!

  9. This is my current read. About a third of the way in and it's a very easy story to become absorbed in. Don't know whether I've read these in the wrong order though as I've already read the Russian Concubine and the Concubine's Secret?


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