This was an ambitious first novel by Kate Furnivall, turning her mother’s experiences as a White Russian refugee in China into an amazing, page-turner of a book.
The story revolves around Lydia Ivanova, a teenage girl living in Junchow, China in 1928. Her father has presumably been killed during the Russian revolution and her mother is struggling to make a living giving piano concerts.
China is a land in turmoil. Chiang Kai-shek and the Koumintang army are in a power struggle against the Communists, and somewhere in the middle are strong Chinese warlords, getting rich off of the opium trade. It’s a dangerous place to be for young Lydia, and she soon finds herself in serious trouble.
I was impressed with the largess of the story Furnivall created. As the story wound itself into the Chinese underworld, I found I could not put it down. Her gift of detail and historical storytelling, found me appreciating this newcomer to my world of historical fiction. Loved it!
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2007