Kate Furnivall is a new author to me and so I started reading this book with some trepidations, but I loved it And even better she has written lots more so that pleases me no end. I see a year ahead with loads of good books to read
All credit to Furnival, she can tell a 'rattling good yarn', and keep her reader's interest going from start to finish. There was also some interesting material about life in Russia under the Communists . But I wondered if Furnival softened some of the horrors of the Stalinist regime. However, it's not a book that I found bore thinking about too much - if one did try to read it with much concentration, or pondered much on the plot, it began to seem very implausible. For example, if Anna was dying of tuberculosis at the start of the novel, how did she survive for so long (and manage to carry on working, and at one point have strength to attack and kill someone)? If Sofia had been starving in Siberia for so long, would everyone really have been taken aback by her beauty and composure? Why wasn't Sofia more frightened, after all she'd been through? Why did she and Mikhail fall so quickly in love? Why did Mikhail suddenly become so swashbuckling? What was Fomenko actually up to? And I felt that Rafik the hypnotizing gypsy tended to turn up in the nick of time rather too often, and that the supernatural elements in the novel seemed to sit slightly uneasily with the rest - I know that superstition and belief in magic are very much part of Russian folk culture, but it was rather clumsily handled here, particularly the material about 'the magic stone' But in spite of these short comings it was a good read and I liked it a lot, so much so that I am now reading another book by her, this time set in Malaya.