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The Jewel of St. Petersburg Paperback – August 3, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this prequel to her debut novel, The Russian Concubine (2007), about White Russian Lydia Ivanova, Furnivall focuses on Lydia’s mother, Valentina, during the years leading up to and including the Russian Revolution of 1917. When Bolsheviks bomb her family’s country estate in 1910, crippling her younger sister, Katya, 17-year-old title character Valentina is left with guilt and resolve. With a slim frame but steely character, she defies both convention and her father, who is the czar’s minister of finance, first by training and working as a nurse and then by refusing to marry for money (in order to solve the family’s financial problems). Instead, she chooses the man she loves passionately, Dane Jens Friis, the czar’s engineer. Through the years, her hatred grows for Viktor Arkin, a Bolshevik leader once in the Ivanovas’ employ who develops an emotionally complicated relationship with the family. Furnivall portrays a country in dreadful conflict, with the grinding poverty of the masses fueling rebellion against the privileged classes. A must for readers of The Russian Concubine and Furnivall’s The Red Scarf (2008). --Michele Leber


High drama and old fashioned passion make this perfect escapist reading' MARIE CLAIRE 'Furnivall skillfully intertwines historical fact with a heartfelt love story. This will be a delight for Furnivall's fans, and equally a joy for those new to her work' PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY 'A complex tale masterfully told, of passion, adventure and intrigue during one of the most fascinating eras of Russian history. Kate Furnivall had my heart pounding from page one - and kept it racing right up until the last. A truly satisfying read' SA 'Full of rich history, heart-stopping romance and delicious dangers, Furnivall's sweeping, sumptuous epic is perfect for readers who just want to escape' LANCASHIRE EVENING POST Gripping, elegant, and fierce, this is a classic war-torn love story, and Furnivall's best yet' LIBRARY JOURNAL 'The Jewel of St Petersburg is an impressive novel which effortlessly conjures up a period in history, colours it with exciting characters and consequently creates an absorbing story that will enthrall from start to finish' ULSTER TATLER --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425234231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425234235
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate Furnivall didn't set out to be a writer. It sort of grabbed her by the throat when she discovered the story of her grandmother - a White Russian refugee who fled from the Bolsheviks down into China. That extraordinary tale inspired her first book, The Russian Concubine. From then on, she was hooked.

Kate is the author of eight novels, including The Russian Concubine, The White Pearl and The Italian Wife. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Amy M. Bruno on August 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Author Kate Furnivall has written an utterly engrossing story of Valentina Ivanova, a daughter to the finance minister to Tsar Nicholas II, set in St. Petersburg during a time of great civil unrest in Russia's history. The working class and poor are getting more desperate every day as they fight starvation and disease or get injured, maimed or killed at the un-safe factories they are forced to work in while the upper class grow more rich and spend more extravagantly. The Revolutionaries are killing off government officials left and right and Valentina's father is among the targets.

Valentina, though born in the upper class, is more interested in taking care of people than of dresses and parties and dreams of one day becoming a nurse. She is a bright, strong-willed girl whom I liked immediately and the rest of the characters were just as engaging - the endearing engineer, Jens; Arkin, the Revolutionary with a heart, Valentina's sad mother Elizaveta and her unfortunate sister Katya. With exceptional descriptions of 20th century St. Petersburg, from the opulent homes of the Russian nobility to the squalid homes of the working class and the underground tunnels beneath the city, Furnivall draws the reader in and the fast-paced action keeps you flipping the pages quickly to see what happens next.

Having thoroughly enjoyed my first book by Kate Furnivall, I am now on a mission to own them all! If you like your historical fiction exciting, enthralling and unputdownable, then this is the book for you!

Valentina's story doesn't end here, check out The Russian Concubine, which is the sequel to The Jewel of St. Petersburg and tells the story of Valentina's daughter.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Richard on August 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
Fans of Kate Furnivall's work will be delighted with this latest addition to the Ivanova family saga. Delivering the prequel to the initial 2 books that followed Lydia's journey, Kate now focuses on Valentina and her own challenges through a beautifully portrayed Tsarist Russian setting. The Jewel of St. Petersburg is totally immersive as the characters and plots develop with Russia's ever present threat of revolution as a backdrop.
I really had a hard time sleeping while reading this book as it was nearing impossible to put down. This book crystallizes Valentina's motives and character which perfectly support and underpin the sequels.
Loved it!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Irishgal on November 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
When most historical fiction books look at the Russian revolution, they tend to focus on the World War I period. Kate Furnivall's "The Jewel of St. Petersburg", however, looks a bit further back - to the roots of the revolution itself, and one woman's fight to save herself and those she loves most as the world around her collapses into chaos.

Summer, 1910. Valentina Ivanova has woken up early and taken her horse for a ride near her family's country estate when she stumbles upon strange men in the forest. She must run for her life, only to return home to see the house bombed and her younger sister, Katya, paralyzed by the blast. At this point, Valentina makes up her mind: she will live her life on her terms, caring for her sister, winning back her parents' respect, and deciding her own future.

Over the next three years, we follow Valentina through life in St. Petersburg as she fights to not only hold a job as a nurse but excel at it, marry the man she loves rather than the one her parents have chosen for her, care for a family that helped her in a time of need, and bring order and chaos to a world that is spinning out of control. For though they are not fully organized yet, the workers are beginning to make demands of the tsar, and Valentina's aristocratic family may be caught in the crossfire. Who can she trust? And will she ever escape the family chauffeur who seems bent on destroying her family?

It's hard to summarize such an exquisite work of historical fiction. This is a book that grips you and refuses to let go, and Furnivall paints a vivid picture of pre-revolutionary Russia. It's completely unforgettable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brina L. Pursley on October 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Jewel of St. Petersburg is the prequel to The Russian Concubine and The Girl From Junchow. I am a huge fan of Furnavall's books and this is a great addition to the Ivanova family saga.
Furnivall has a way of bringing history to life before your eyes while telling an amazing story. Although I know little of Russia's History this book brought to life a time and place that is foreign to me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Rothwell VINE VOICE on August 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was eagerly awaiting the release of this novel, and I was not disappointed. I fell in love with Furnivall's first novel, The Russian Concubine, a few years ago and since then have thoroughly enjoyed every novel she has written. This novel tells the story of Valentina Ivanova, who happens to be the mother of Lydia--Furnivall's protagonist in both The Russian Concubine and it's sequel The Girl from Junchow.
I found this tale of late Tsarist/early Revolutionary Russia incredibily compelling, it's depiction of the dire state of the working class compared with the jewel-encrusted nobility brought everything I learnt in history class come violently to life. Furnivall has done an absolutely brilliant job of portraying the worker's anguish and hatred of their way of life. She makes it clear that they are so blinded by their grim circumstances that they truly believe that the complete obliteration of the upper classes is the only way to improve their lives.
Knowing what we do now of Stalinist Russia (which Furnivall writes about in her novel The Red Scarf) it can become too easy for us to think of their plight as non-sensical, as for a lot of Russian people their lives were just as terrible under Stalinist rule as they were under Tsarist.
And yet Furnivall urges us to put aside our advantage of hindsight and imagine ourselves as a factory worker in 1910 Russia, whose family is dying due to disease and hunger. She makes it easy for us to see the desperation of the poor, and how violence can begin to seem like their only hope.
All in all, a wonderfully written novel, written to the standard that I've come to expect from Ms Furnivall.
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