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The Russian Concubine (The Russian Concubine #1)

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3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,165 Ratings  ·  847 Reviews
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
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Paperback, 517 pages
Published June 27th 2007 by Berkley (first published May 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Amy
Sep 20, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
First of all I give this book two big thumbs up. I LOVED IT. I would rate it a harsh pg-13. Very little language, but a couple of steamy love making, and a couple of nasty violent scenes (all of which had to be there to make the book so great).

I'm going to start with a quote straight from the book. This summs up the books meaning.

"...now she knew tht you didn't survive on your own. Everyone who touched your life sent a ripple effect through you, and all the ripples interconnected. She could sens
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Lorileinart
Jul 13, 2008 Lorileinart rated it did not like it
The Russian Concubine started out like Cool Whip: light & fluffy. But I thought to myself, "Sometimes Cool Whip is good!" Unfortunately, midway through, I began to feel as if I'd eaten an entire tub of that crap. Then came page 331, and I knew I couldn't read another line and still respect myself in the morning:
"...Enjoy this breath, Po Chu, because it will be your last if you call my beloved a whore again..."
"She begged. Ah, Tiyo Willbee, how she begged..."
"Begged? For what?"
"For our ho
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Ali
Mar 30, 2009 Ali rated it did not like it
Blech. This sounded exactly like a book I would love. It's historical fiction, lots of drama, a hint of romance in the storyline, but I couldn't have cared less what happened to these people. The first chapter was harsh, but it kind of grabbed you. Then, it was all downhill from there. The mother, whom you thought was going to be this big champion for her daughter, all of a sudden is horrible and doesn't care a fig about anyone in chapter two. I understand the need to make characters complex and ...more
Zeek
The Russian Concubine starts in the time of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Lydia Ivanova’s parents, part of the educated and elite in Russia, are shipped out like cattle. At the end of their journey her father is shot in front of her.

Move forward to 1928 China, where the winds of communism are fanning the flames of revolution once again. Exiles in a foreign land, Lydia and her mother are barely surviving, no thanks to her otherwise beautiful mother’s drinking and fragility. Both know how to
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KED
May 19, 2009 KED rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessi
Jan 31, 2009 Jessi rated it it was amazing
I chose this book from the book store mainly because of the front cover. The picture is very beautiful, and the title is intriguing. Although, after reading through the book, I don't really understand why it's called The Russian Concubine. Yes, Lydia and Chang are lovers, but concubine just gives a different connotation. Chang wouldn't be able to afford a concubine.

The book has such a wonderful array of rich and overlapping characters. If you meet a character once, you can be sure to meet them a
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 ~*Marya*~ I'м α Gιrl ιɴ α World ιɴ Wнιcн No Oɴe Elѕe ιѕ Tнrowιɴɢ Awαy мy Pαѕтα*~ Rαιѕe yoυr ɢlαѕѕ, doɴ'т тнrow αwαy yoυr ѕнoт
DNF at page 109

I'm three quarters Cantonese and though I can't do kung fu to save my life, but I can rip this book apart.

First of all, I dnf-ed this book because it was 517 pages and I was not into it. I have a good number of reasons why.

Basically, this book is Tsarina and Tiger's Curse, only without the crappy fantasy element of the former and a bit less of the latter's unintended potential racism. It starts with an intense but cheesy prologue where they introduce our MC as a supposedly "Strong
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Sue
Apr 17, 2013 Sue rated it liked it
This is the first book in the Russian Concubine series. I happened to read the third one first which was a prequel to this one (The Jewel of St. Petersburg). I liked "The Jewel" so much better than the "Russian Concubine." The characters you meet in the "Concubine" seem so flawed and almost not the same people I read about in "The Jewel." I loved and admired Valentina in "The Jewel", but did not like her at all in the "Concubine." The experience of fleeing for her life during the Bolshevik Revol ...more
Jen
[possible spoiler/s ahead:]

A deftly woven tale of political intrigue, betrayal and lies in a turbulent historical point in China, but at its heart a touching love story between two people—born worlds apart—who ultimately find love and communion in each other.

The Russian Concubine is very well researched and the authenticity of the setting and characters portrayed by Furnivall is spot-on. I can see why people would hate this book, judging from some reviews on the site here, thinking it a melodra
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Louisa
Feb 24, 2008 Louisa rated it it was ok
I REALLY tried to like this book. I forced myself to keep reading, thinking and hoping that I would get hooked by the characters at some point. But, I have officially given up. Considering this is a period romance set in China during the 1920s, you'd think this was right up my alley. I certainly did. However, I was never interested in the characters that much. (And as a high school teacher a love story about 16-year-olds is disturbing on many levels.) Also, I felt that some passages read like a ...more
Sarah
May 19, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
The writing is mediocre. Ala 50 Shades of Grey style- adult concepts in young adultish writing.

There's no transition between scenes. No buffer. It just switches from one scene or dialogue to another. I found that annoying also. Maybe works well on TV but sounds confusing and abrupt on paper. Especially in this case where there are so many plots which brings me to my next point.

Too many things going on and there was no direction. Is this a political thriller? A love story? Chinese gangs, drug tr
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Sarka
Oct 08, 2011 Sarka rated it it was amazing
This is actually Book two in a current trilogy that I am reading. Wow.... What I love about this story is that the author is not sugar coating anything. If blood is to be spilled, it is and big time. It opens your mind to the true Russian and Chinese history in the early part of the last century. The Bolshevik and Communist history. and in between it has the forbidden love stories first of the mother and then her daughter too. If you only read book 1 "The Jewel of St Petersberg" you will end up ...more
Jori Richardson
Set in 1928 Jungchow, China, this book follows Lydia, a Russian young woman who immigrated there as a child with her mother. Lydia spends her days going to a school that her mother cannot afford, pickpocketing on the Chinese streets, and struggling to get by in her poor community. Her life changes drastically when she meets Chang An Lo, a brave young Communist code-breaker. Lydia becomes caught up in Chang's idea of freedom and equality, and despite their differences in culture, feels increasing ...more
Suzanne
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 Communist
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★Ruth★
Very enjoyable tale, and although I may have skimmed a little bit, it was only cause it was a tad long winded in spots, but overall I really got lost in this story.

I believe I have done this the wrong way around and read The Jewel of St. Petersburg first which was apparently released after this one as a prequel but going by peoples reviews it's all probably worked out for the best as I knew all the background to the story and people in it :)
Janeka
Jul 13, 2015 Janeka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eu estava à espera de um romance histórico suave e fofinho, mas este livro traz mais do que isso - uma intriga bem construída e interessante, que me fez gostar de Lydia e da sua impulsividade.

Mas fica o aviso: contém algumas cenas de carácter mais violento e gráfico. Acho que é um daqueles livros "hit or miss", em que não há opiniões de meio termo. Eu gostei, muito.

"Porque, agora, sabia que ninguém sobrevivia sozinha. Todos quantos tocam a vida de uma pessoa provocam nesta um efeito vibratório,
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Sarah
Kate still impresses with her skills at world building, characterization, and relationship dynamics. I’ve only read one book by her so far, one of her newer works. This one seems to be the one she’s known most for so I’m glad I was able to experience it.

And “experience” is the correct term to use! The reader can literally smell the Chinese incense scents, see the vivid reds and golds of Chinese architecture and fabrics, and hear the calls of stall owners and shops of the markets. All of this is
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Kirstin
Mar 07, 2013 Kirstin rated it really liked it
Shelves: asia, russia, series
I really enjoyed this book. It is the story of Lydia Ivanova and her mother who are White Russian refugees in China. She doesn’t quite fit into this strange world which was created by the Western world in the middle of revolutionary China. They live in an international settlement in Junchow where the British run the settlement. Lydia attends the British private school, where she is somewhat an outcast. She has a desire to know and understand the Chinese people and their culture. She frequently l ...more
Thom Swennes
Feb 16, 2013 Thom Swennes rated it it was amazing
It just happens…. Not a word is exchanged, no promise uttered, no rhyme or reason. Love just happens….
In 1917 during the Russian revolution Jens and Valentina Friis are transported east as was done with many ex-royalists. Packed in freight cars without enough room, air, food and warmth they try to protect their one remaining treasure; their infant daughter, Lydia. These banned Russian aristocrats try to survive in an isolated and forgotten Chinese city of Junchow. Since the successful conclusio
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thewanderingjew
Jun 24, 2012 thewanderingjew rated it it was ok
In 1917, a family caught in the midst of the Russian Revolution, is literally ripped apart when Russian revolutionary soldiers assault the train taking the exiles out of the country. Valentina Ivanova tries to barter for the lives of her husband and daughter. Lydia is saved, but her husband is beaten and dragged off with the rest of the men and children who have been forced from the train by the soldiers. The book was very loosely based on the life of the author’s mother.
At first glance, I reali
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Karlyn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gaile
Lydia is a Russian refugee who along with her mother is now living in China In a community with other refugees but the times are dangerous. China is in a guerrilla between the communists and the kaomintangs. Lydian meet a young communist Chinese. Chang An Lo. They fall in love but fate is against them.
The author piles suspense upon suspense spiced with violence, danger and young love until I could hardly get my breath. It is a long book for so much suspense.The end is left hanging as this novel
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Kirsta
Jul 06, 2009 Kirsta rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2009
This is a romance novel disguised as historical fiction. I have nothing against romance novels, I just think they should be clearly marked as such so I don't read them and give myself these awful headaches from all the eye rolling.

The writing in this one stunk. I think her creative writing 101 instructor told her to come up with as many adjectives as possible to describe every single noun that she used. The end product was the thesaurus of the most generic words possible. I cannot believe the nu
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Francesca
Apr 03, 2012 Francesca rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Questo libro non è avventuroso o impetuoso.
E' fatto di piccole gocce delicate cinesi che cadono una dopo l'altra, tic tic tic... senza farti accorgere di quello che sta accadendo finché il vaso non è pieno, trabocca, e tutta l'acqua si riversa...
E' un libro che ti prende piano, che fino alla metà ancora non ti ha convinto, ma che già da subito sai che non puoi abbandonare finché non sarai giunto alla fine, comunque sarà. Perché ti è entrato dentro e ancora non lo sai.
Non è un libro che parla di
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Jessica Strydom
Feb 07, 2016 Jessica Strydom rated it it was ok
Firstly, the title of this book is completely misleading. One thinks that it should be a story about an actual concubine, to some royal or political figure. One thinks that it should be a bit of a saucy book.

It is none of these things.

It's a book about a Russian refugee in China, who falls in love with a Chinese boy, and makes bad decisions generally.

It was ok, but I wish that the book wasn't so misleading. I won't get the next book in the series, because I really don't care much for the charact
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Burçak Kılıç
Çook uzun bi kitap..Ara ara sıksada bayağı etkileyiciydi..
Kitapta Rus devrimi sırasında babasından ayrı düşen Lydia ve annesi Valentina Çin'e Junchow böylesine sürülür.. Bu bölgede uluslar arası yerleşim bölümüdür çünkü Çin'de iç karışıklık içindedir.. Komünistler, ülkeyi sömüren yabancılar :S Açıkçası siyasi bi kitap olarak değerlindiriyorum her şeyin içine sefalet, işkence, acı ve aşk yerleştirilmiş.. Bazı sahneler yürek parçalayıcıydı :/
Ve kızımız Lydia ile Çinli komünist Chang An Lo'nun zor
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Kate
Jan 18, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this novel 5 stars because I would definitely recommend it to others, and I was captivated by it. It was so good...The descriptions were really great just like Meghan said and the characters really grew on you. I have to admit I was not completely hooked in the beginning...I think that's because Valentina frustrated me and the beginning of Chang An Lo and Lydia's relationship was frustrating and I thought Chang was not as flexible as Lydia...but I loved how their relationship grew. Ly ...more
Suze
Dec 29, 2012 Suze rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. The cover is kind of misleading, as concubines have very little to do with the storyline. I have read another book by this author and loved it (The White Pearl), so decided to take a chance in spite of the cover.

VERY engrossing, and in some parts a sexy but adorable portayal of the devotion of young love. The characters are interesting and complicated. The story describes the hardships endured by those who escaped to China from the Russian revolution, as well as the horrib
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Tory
Apr 07, 2009 Tory rated it did not like it
"The train growled to a halt. Gray steam belched from its heaving engine into the white sky, and the twenty-four freight carriages behind bucked and rattled as they lurched shrieking to a standstill."

I should have stopped when I read the first two sentences over and over because I couldn't get past how ridiculous they were. Growled? Belched? Heaving? Bucked and rattled? Lurched shrieking? REALLY?! Because I'm pretty sure this is what we call overkill.

The entire book carried on this way. Everyth
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tsukino
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Kate Furnivall was raised in Penarth, a small seaside town in Wales. Her mother, whose own childhood was spent in Russia, China and India, discovered at an early age that the world around us is so volatile, that the only things of true value are those inside your head and your heart. These values Kate explores in The Russian Concubine.

Kate went to London University where she studied English and fr
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More about Kate Furnivall...

Other Books in the Series

The Russian Concubine (3 books)
  • The Jewel of St. Petersburg (The Russian Concubine, #0)
  • The Girl from Junchow (The Russian Concubine, #2)

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“The sight of you brings joy to my heart and makes my blood thunder in my veins. I know not how long I will be allowed to stand here. So there are words I must say. That you are the moon and the stars to me, and the air I breathe. To love you is to live. So if I die.... I will still live in you.” 5 likes
“Water was a state of mind. If you think it your friend when you swim in the river or wash away the dirt, why call it your enemy when it comes from the heavens? From the cup of the gods themselves.” 5 likes
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