The Russian Concubine is wacky. No, that word isn't serious enough to describe it, but I really can't come up with a good descriptor to fit this book. It is just so many things, and that's not necessarily a good thing.
Lydia is a teenager who lives with her
mother in a European settlement in China. Her mother is a tragic
figure, but she loves her dearly, and Lydia tries to keep food on the
table by thieving. Rescued one night by a dashing Chinese man, she
can't help a growing attraction to him, even though he means nothing but
bad news for her. And she gets into plenty of trouble on her own, but
she has a wild heart and can't help but want more from her life than
what it is giving her.
Lydia is a good character. She's a
flighty teenager in some ways but a very strong person in others. And
she stands up to pain well. I think she makes believable mistakes too
and acts like someone her age, who has had to take care of her mother,
would act. That being said, I didn't really care for her mother or the
plot twists involving her. Those didn't ring as believable to me and
her mother's personality going from selfish to saint and back again was
confusing. Lydia's romantic interest confused me too. The narratives
from his perspective were disjointed and didn't really give a lot of
depth to his character aside from making him a Communist.
was a lot that happened in this book. And not all of it made sense. It
started off slow, and had a plot building up, then you got to the last
hundred pages and things started shooting off all over the place like
firecrackers. While they all tied in together I felt like it was
overkill and too much was happening. Furnivall is good at description
though. When there's a scene you know what's going on. And she isn't
afraid to write about violence, sex, and other matters in full detail.
It's not glossed over in the least.
I know this book is part of a
series in some way (I think it may be the 2nd book, not sure) and I'll
probably get around to reading more of it at some point. But I'm not in
The Russian Concubine