Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: The Jewel of St Petersburg by Kate Furnivall

Publisher: Berkley (Penguin)

Pages: 410
Source: Publisher
Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5


Valentina Ivanova lived in bliss, born into the privileged upper class, she was the Jewel of St. Petersburg aristocracy. A pianist like no other, having the honour and privilege to play for the Tsar himself. While the aristocracy enjoyed their world, Russia was on the eve of a revolution. A revolution that would shock and destroy. The aristocracy refused to see the desperation amongst the Bolsheviks. Men and women were fighting not to starve, fighting for safe working conditions, and fair pay. The dire state of the working classed was mocked by the gentry. The men with nothing working amongst the gentry witnessed first hand the extravagant lifestyles of the rich. Valentina became a victim herself when her own home was invaded and bombed, crippling her sister and fracturing her relationship with her parents forever. Valentina began to open her eyes, and see the changes amongst her world. Trust very little, live in fear and hope for the best. Although, Valentina acknowledged the issues, she couldn't help but despise the men who paralyzed her little sister, she vowed to do everything possible to keep her sister safe and secure. Very few people took the revolutionists seriously. Her parents concerned themselves with marriage prospects for Valentina. A daughter was only good for making connections, she is expected married well. However, Valentina had her own visions for her future, she would be a nurse. When no one believed an aristocrat was capable, Valentina was mocked and dismissed but she kept hope alive. Her parents had the perfect marriage lined up, until Valentina met a Danish engineer named Friis. Her father begins to burden her with a secret, but Valentina remains strong-willed, and persistent.

Overall Impression:

Overall, this book was simply impossible to put down. I loved the juxtaposition between the aristocracy and Bolsheviks. Through the eyes of Valentina, the reader is able to see the effects of the destruction and terror caused by the revolutionists. A little girl is paralyzed, a family's home suddenly unsafe. At the same time men, women and children lacked food, fought diseases, and demanded higher wages in extremely unsafe working conditions. Government officials lives were constantly at risk, amongst the government officials was Valentina's father. The family driver Arkin, a revolutionary through and through explains in great detail his point of view. We see the arguments through each character's eyes. This book was fast-paced, compelling, and engaging. If you like historical fiction, you will want to read this one. This was my first Kate Furnivall book, but it will not be my last. A great read is always appreciated, and savoured, this is an amazing read!


  1. The cover is very Scarlet O Hara except of course were in St Petersburg!

    A 5 star winner will get me everytime. Adding it to Must Read list.

    Great review Mrs. Q :)