Berkley Trade|August 7, 2007|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-425-21558-6
A sweeping novel set in war-torn 1928 China, with a star-crossed love story at its center. In a city full of thieves and Communists, danger and death, spirited young Lydia Ivanova has lived a hard life. Always looking over her shoulder, the sixteen-year-old must steal to feed herself and her mother, Valentina, who numbered among the Russian elite until Bolsheviks murdered most of them, including her husband. As exiles, Lydia and Valentina have learned to survive in a foreign land.
Often, Lydia steals away to meet with the handsome young freedom fighter Chang An Lo. But they face danger. Chiang Kai Shek’s troops are headed toward Junchow to kill Reds like Chang, who has in his possession the jewels of a tsarina, meant as a gift for the despot’s wife. The young pair’s all-consuming love can only bring shame and peril upon them, from both sides. Those in power will do anything to quell it. But Lydia and Chang are powerless to end it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel although I found the beginning few chapters a bit slow. I’m glad I stuck with it as it turned out to be an amazing historical story!
Set in Junchow, China in 1928, sixteen-year-old Russian, Lydia Ivanova and her mother, Valentina are mired in poverty. Lydia is forced to steal and sell what she gets to pay the rent and feed herself and her mother.
The author did a fantastic job of detailing the sights, sounds, and smells that you felt as though you were right there in Junchow. The other great aspect of this novel was the depiction of the cultural clashes between the British, Chinese, and Russians.
I felt so sad for, Lydia who met, Chan An Lo, a freedom fighter and Communist whom she fell deeply in love with but could never truly have him or marry him. Lydia’s mother, Valentina was a useless, lazy woman who layed around all day smoking cigarettes and drinking vodka while her daughter starved.
I loved this book and would highly recommend it for anyone but it would make a great bookclub read.