Format: Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade; 1 edition
Released Date: August 3, 2010
The national bestselling author of The Russian Concubine takes us back to Tsarist Russia for a sweeping novel of love and intrigue.
Russia, 1910. Valentina Ivanova is the darling of St. Petersburg's elite aristocracy-until her romance with a Danish engineer creates a terrible scandal and her parents push her into a loveless engagement with a Russian count.
Meanwhile, Russia itself is bound for rebellion. With the Tsar and the Duma at each other's throats, and the Bolsheviks drawing their battle lines, the elegance and opulence of Tsarist rule are in their last days. And Valentina will be forced to make a choice that will change not only her own life, but the lives of those around her forever...
About the Author
Kate Furnivall was born in Wales and currently lives in Devon, England. Married and the mother of two sons, she has worked in publishing and television advertising. She is the national bestselling author of several novels.
Get to know the Author of the Day.
OVER THE EDGE BOOK REVIEWS
I get a deep-down visceral sense of satisfaction when I’ve written a page that pleases me. And the moment when I caught sight of my first book on a bookstore shelf was unforgettable. But the best part is the delight of inhabiting so many different characters. It is as if I have been given the opportunity to enjoy dozens of different existences in one lifetime.
The worst? No contest. Deadlines. I’m a slow writer and I panic when editors start breathing gently down my neck.
2. Name one eye-opening thing you learned from your book research.
When I was researching the gulags, Russian labour camps under Stalin’s rule, I was both appalled and thrilled. Appalled by the brutal cruelty that man is capable of, yet thrilled and deeply moved by the incredible stories of kindness and selfless support among the inmates. Mankind is constantly amazing.
3. Do you have a favourite motto?
‘Don’t faff about. Just write!’ I am all too easily distracted. Emails are banned till after midday.
4. Do you have a favourite fictional hero? Favourite fictional heroine?
As a teenager I read a book that bowled me over – Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind”. I fell, weak-kneed, in love with the rebellious Rhett Butler. He became my gold-standard for heroes. A heroine? It’s got to be Scarlett O’Hara from the same book. Capable of breathtaking generosity and yet ruthlessly selfish. Single-minded and unconventional. I see her influence on my own heroines.
5. Which fictional character would you hang out with?
Henry, from Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife”. To zip from place to place and time to time. How cool is that? Even to come back to give advice to your younger self. Brilliant. Only one problem – he always arrives naked. I’ll skip that bit, thank you!
6. What is one of your favourite book covers, your own or someone else’s?
It’s got to be the UK cover of “Memoirs of a Geisha”. A vivid image of a pair of perfect red lips on a white background. Absolutely unmissable.
7. What would readers be surprised to learn about you?
That I’m not one of those novelists who wrote stories as soon as they could hold a pencil. I wrote nothing until I was in my forties and my first book, “The Russian Concubine”, went on the New York Times bestseller list – which is what every writer dreams of. So don’t ever think you can’t do it too.
8. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever learned by Googling your name?
I’ve only Googled my name once and nearly fell off my chair when I saw how many thousands of results there were. I’ve never done it again. It felt as if parts of me were owned by other people, floating out there in cyber space. Deeply disturbing.
9. If you could go backward or forward in time which would you choose? Why?
Definitely forward. Because I am insatiably curious. And an eternal optimist.
“The Jewel of St Petersburg”.
“The Jewel of St. Petersburg” is set against the splendours of the last Tsar’s court in Russia 1910 and tells the story of young Valentina Ivanova. It is a powerful war-torn love story, fierce and passionate, but it is also a study of the breakdown of a society and what it costs in both personal and communal terms to build a new future.
Valentina, one of Russia’s elite, falls in love with a Danish engineer but is forced towards a loveless aristocratic marriage by her parents. Russia is bound for Revolution and Valentina’s eyes are opened as she struggles for independence and fights to build a future for herself and for those she loves, as chaos descends on her country.
I loved writing this book, as my own grandmother was a White Russian who fled from St Petersburg after the Revolution in 1917.
11. Which do you think is most important to you as a writer, voice or story? Why?
That’s a real poser. When I start a book, it’s with a place in mind. That’s what comes first. For me so far it’s been China and Russia. I do loads of research and fall in love with a place which immediately conjures up a host of plotlines. But a story is meaningless unless you have a strong voice for your main character that will draw your reader into caring what happens to her or him. So I guess my answer has to be voice.
12. Kate, please tell us where we can find you out in cyber world. For desperate readers like me, we just have to know.
You can find me at katefurnivall.com.
13. I know this is a difficult question with there being so many amazing authors out there to choose from but who are some of the GOT-TO-HAVE authors in your TBR pile?
The pile of books beside my bed will hit the ceiling one of these days. Most of my reading is non-fiction for research, by historians like Sebag-Montefiore and Noel Barber. But fiction is my relaxation – Margaret Atwood’s “Year of the Flood”, Philippa Gregory’s “The White Queen”, David Mitchell’s “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” are top of the heap.
14. What’s next in the works for you? When can readers expect to see it out on shelves in their local bookstores?
Next comes Malaya. Hot, steamy, jungle-ridden. An exciting change for me. Time? 1941, the height of British colonial rule. A country in the grip of white-owned rubber plantations and croquet lawns. A complex, shifting story in which my main character has to fight her own demons as well as those of Malaya. Should be completed in time for publication summer 2011.
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The giveaway is open to all and will be running until August 8, 2010. I'll be picking and contacting the winner directly on August 9, 2010. Please make sure to include your email with your comment. Happy Reading!