February 12, 2014

The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

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.

There 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 any rush.

The Russian Concubine
Copyright 2007
517 pages

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