“ Author: Kate Furnivall / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 02 July 2009 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group / Title: The Concubine's Secret / ISBN 13: 9780751540451 / ISBN 10: 0751540451 „
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This book is the sequal to "The Russian Concubine" by Kate Furnivall and I would recommend reading that before you start this one as the characters and a lot of the story follow on from that book!
The story is set in the early 20th Century in the 1920s. The main character Lydia is a Russian who grew up in China after her mother was expelled from Russia during the revolution with nothing but the clothes on her back.
Lydia grew up thinking that her father had been shot by the Russian militants but found out (in the previous novel) that he was actually alive. Following the death of her mother at the end of the first novel she resolves to return to Russia with her half brother Alexi and find Jens Friis, her Danish father who has spend 18 years in a Communist work camp.
The story in this novel starts off with Lydia and Alexi returning to Russia in the company of a Cossak protector. Their aim is to find Jens Friis and somehow rescue him from the workcamp.
Lydia leaves behind her lover a communist soldier fighting the battle for Mao in China but secretly hopes to find him again.
The story follows the hunt of Lydia and Alexi for their father across communist Russia. What lengths will they go to to rescue their father and is it even possible?
I hate spoiling a plot so no further insights to what happens!
Lydia - a young 17 year old on a mission. She is a very strong character who is absolutely loyal both to her lover and brother, but is willing to sink to depths of behaviour to free her father. She is headstrong and you can't help but want her to succeed.
Alexi - clashes with the cossak protector but loves his sister. Has risked a lot to travel to Russia with her. He has a strange relationship with Lydia - almost a hint of attraction exists which is slightly disturbing!
Lydias lover - a communist soldier fighting the good fight but struggling with whether or not Mao is the right leader for China! Also can he forget his lover?
Kate Furnivall has a chatty writing style and the story flows very well. THe book is written in the third person so we don't get into the characters heads but we see their actions.
What did I think?
This is a novel which romps along quickly -- the action moving swiftly without giving the reader time to get bored. Kate Furnivall has a lovely descriptive style so you can imagine clearly what the places are like.
I was slightly disappointed with the story - it was just a little weak and contrived in places. BUT that said, I loved the style and it kept me going while breast feeding Brad so would recomend this as a gentle read! I did learn a bit about communism in Russia and China - making me glad I live in a democracy!
Overall - worth a look but don't expect the next great novel!