Surprise on me, initially I turned this one down for review because I was in review overload at the moment. After I looked up Kate Furnivall on my usual book sites I quickly recanted my decision. I can confirm Kate Furnivall is a rising star in historical fiction, now I just need to find the time to fit in “The Russian Concubine”
Revolutionary Russia was a scary, way scary time period. It is right up there with The French Revolution in my mind. In other words no one was safe and life was filled with constant threats. Kate’s leading lady Valentina was beautiful, kind, and exquisitely talented at playing the piano with her soul. She felt the music because it was part of who she was. Tragedy struck the family home when the revolutionary group the Bolsheviks set off a bomb that left Valentina’s little sister Katya paralyzed. What was shocking is that they would pick on her family like that but her father was part of the Tsar’s group and was a Baron. One positive that came out of such a negative was the attack inspired Valentina to become a dedicated nurse.
Valentina first laid eyes on the hot “Viking” Jens Friis during a private piano performance for the Tsar. Jens was a Danish engineer that came to Russia to work for the Tsar on building Russia a whole underground sewer system. Since Russia never had anything like the sewers before you can only imagine the daily struggles Jens faced. His mission was for the greater good of the people. Valentina and Jens shared that special aspect where at the core they were givers, lovers of people, and the kind of people that would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it.
In the time when the Russian people could not be forced any lower, the political unrest lead to anger among the working class. The people had every right to be angry; they had no clean water, no job safety, and bad politics leading them down an even worse path than before. Sadly the people had eventually lost all hope of the future and had begun to openly rebel. The unrest in Russia came to its zenith when Valentina and Jens were just starting to find their way in life. It became clear that home was not safe and Jens’ job was not safe either because it was the working class who dug out the new sewer tunnels. It was made with the sweat and blood of the working class. Sadly not all who went to work in the morning came back home at the end of the day. Dying at work was a reality, starving was more than likely, and when the hope for the future died it was replaced with anger for the “privileged” people like Jens and Valentina. Russia demanded change, it needed change but Jens and Valentina would become swept up with the blood storm of a country in the middle of a revolution.
5/5 what I enjoyed most about this book was Valentina. Not because she was beautiful or because she played the piano but that she genuinely cared about people. She loved her sister beyond words and did everything she could to care for her not just physically but spiritually also. It is one thing to love a sister but to give that kind of love to a stranger is another thing that Valentina did with out hesitation or thought. The other aspect I most enjoyed was Kate’s impeccable gift of relaying the specific details. Kate gives the readers a real treat; you live and breathe Russia through Valentina. Taking in the smallest details like the smell of the city, smoke billowing off a shotgun, the much humanized staff that cared for Valentina’s home, Kate even covered the filth and garbage in the streets. Historical fiction does not get much better than this. The only thing that would even come close is actually teleporting back into time to Revolutionary Russia. Besides this book has the best ending I have read in a long time.
PG-13 For mild violence and language
FTC- This book was sent to me by the publisher