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Angel on the Square (Angel on the Square, #1)
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Angel on the Square

(St. Petersburg #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,508 ratings  ·  192 reviews
In the fall of 1914, safe behind palace walls, Katya Ivanova sees St. Petersburg as a magical place.The daughter of a lady-in-waiting to the Empress, Katya spends all her time with the Grand Duchesses; the royal family feels like her own. But outside the palace, a terrible war is sweeping through Europe, and Russia is beginning to crumble under the weight of a growing revo ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by HarperCollins (first published August 21st 2001)
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3.89  · 
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 ·  2,508 ratings  ·  192 reviews

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Apr 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Fitzgerald
I felt that the age level for the book demanded a few too many concessions in terms of historical detail. There is also no author's note regarding historical sources, further reading, etc., which is a missed opportunity. I don't know that such young readers need to deal with this part of world history. Waiting a few years might be better. There were a number of places where the class struggle was presented a bit too simplistically, and I would be concerned that young readers would form their fir ...more
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Angel on the Square is one of my absolute favorite books. It's an easy read, seemingly not much depth, and not really a tearjerker or focused on hot guys or the destruction of the world...but rather it's a middle grade book set in one of my favorite time periods, the Russian Revolution and the events leading up to it.

Katya is the typical poor little rich girl, and you know, even if it's just a book for the younger ages, her character development doesn't feel like moral judgment at all. It isn'
Linda Lipko
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Continuing my journey to study Russian history, I found this book on one of my shelves and spent a pleasant rainy day reading this well written historical novel.

Combining fact with fiction, Angel on the Square is wonderful for many reasons, primarily because it does just what historical fiction should do, ie it opens the door to a glimpse of history and wets the appetite to search for more knowledge about the subject.

Twelve year old Katya Ivanova lived a life of splendor behind guilded palace wa
Kathy Bowman
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I was looking for a historical fiction to read to my kids before our visit to St. Petersburg, and this book was perfect. I read it with my 10 & 7 year-old, and they were both interested in the story. It does a decent job of giving a balanced side to both the aristocrats and to the general populace with their struggles. I had a bit of a struggle explaining some aspects of a revolution to my kids as I read, partially because sometimes there is no great answer, but it raised a lot of awareness ...more
Georgia Herod
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the first Whelan book I read--and I loved it. I enjoy young adult fiction. In this book and all others I've read--she creates strong female protagonists who overcome great adversity. They are dynamic, growing from beginning to end. Another feature of Whelan's writing is authenticity regarding setting, time frame, history, and culture. One aspect of the last which I very much enjoy is her use of words in the language of the land (for example, in this, as well as the successive books about ...more
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This book was something different, kind of a treat for me, because it’s about World War I – not my comfort zone – but also about Russia, which is something I’ve been interested in lately.

It’s meant for children, as per usual, but the shallowness of this book was not a problem for me, really. I felt like the length was suitable for the story. I would’ve liked a little more of a follow up – checking in on Misha, especially, because he was so important to Katya, and, thus, to you as the reader. Bu
Kate Matson
Summary from Goodreads:
In the fall of 1914, safe behind palace walls, Katya Ivanova sees St. Petersburg as a magical place.The daughter of a lady-in-waiting to the Empress, Katya spends all her time with the Grand Duchesses; the royal family feels like her own. But outside the palace, a terrible war is sweeping through Europe, and Russia is beginning to crumble under the weight of a growing revolution. Now, as Katya's once-certain future begins to dissolve, she must seek to understand what is ha
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Angel on the Square is set in Russia just before and during World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution. It’s told from the point of view of an aristocratic young girl, Katya. Her mother is selected to be a lady-in-waiting for the Empress and, since Katya is about the same age as Anastasia, she goes with her to be a friend and playmate for the princess. I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story, but once I got about 2/3 of the way through it I could hardly put it down. I highly recommend th ...more
Clare Martha Thérèse
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was very well written! The author used colorful language which made it engaging and hard to put down. I could see how the characters grew and developed through the war and the hard times. I love learning about history through fiction, so it was very enjoyable and interesting to learn about World War I and the Russian revolution of 1917 from the perspective of Katya Ivanova, the daughter of the lady in waiting to the Empress. A very good and recommended read!
Hailey Hudson
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my longtime favorites.
Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛

Here's another book on the Russian Empire I surprisingly waited this long to read. And honestly? It was a mixed-bag, but luckily it had more good things going for it than bad.

First of all, let's start with the good stuff, since there actually are a lot.

The descriptions in the first half of this book are BEAUTIFUL. Being a childrens' book, they are simple, yet the saying' less is more' truly reigns supreme in this book. I could perfectly picture everything that was gong on-
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wealthy, twelve-year-old Katya Ivanova and her mother have always lived a luxurious life in their mansion in the city of St. Petersburg, Russia. They spend their summers on their country estate, The Oaks, and Katya's mother is a close friend of Empress Alexandra. When the Empress invites Katya's mother to come live in the palace as a lady-in-waiting and to bring Katya along to be a companion to her youngest daughter, Anastasia, Katya is thrilled. She and Anastasia, or Stana as she is called, bec ...more
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read this again because a fifth-grade teacher wanted more age-appropriate books about revolution to compare when studying the American Revolution, and this one the only one I knew. Read from a comparison perspective, it is rather enlightening. Between 1776 and 1918, there's taxation without representation, and there's a war going on with soldiers who don't have food, or weapons, or boots...

It's 1913, and Katya and her mother are part of the aristocracy, and they go to the palace to be companio
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up because I really liked Homeless Bird, another book by the same author. This is a junior historical fiction book set in Russia during the time of the revolution. The main character, Katya, is born into an aristocratic family and is fiercely loyal to the Romanov family. Her opinion of them begins to be torn as she has opportunities to see how the majority of the Russian citizens live. Even though I know the main historical events of this period, the fictional characters' live ...more
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this for a project for school. Simple but sweet, Angel on the Square allowed us to explore a kind of time period I feel like isn't appreciated enough. Everyone talks about the Holocaust, the American Revolution (though I do agree both of those time periods are interesting), etc., but not many may know about the Russian Revolution in this time. My one problem with the book was I felt like most of the book was just Katya and the Tsar's family hiding and hiding and hiding...BUT it doesn't me ...more
M Laabs
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was interested in this book, because I wanted to hear a more factual story about Tsar Nicholas II's Imperial family after seeing a movie about Anastasia. We listened to the audio book. The movie was terrible, it warped all historical facts about Anastasia--but this book, a historical fiction was very well done. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as well as my sixth graders. We looked up, historical pictures of the family and St. Petersburg, Russia. I know it will definitely set up my boys to understandi ...more
Ciarra fields
Feb 23, 2009 is currently reading it
I'm not really far into my book yet i think it is a pretty good book so far. Well my book is about emporers and rulers of kingdoms and i dont really thgink it goes into a lot of detail about some of the characters but other than that itg is an aweesome book. I would oly suggest it to people who dont like detail because it doesnt have much in it. Also, if you like kingdoms/palaces and snobby annoying people to go along with it than this is the perfect book for you.
Richard (Rick)
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: upper-elementary
My family really likes Whelan's other book, "Homeless Bird." This one wasn't as good as Homeless Bird, but was still enjoyable. It's about an aristocrat girl and friend of the royal family whose life changes during the Russian overthrow of the royal family. My 8-year-old daughter loved it. It's appropriate for all ages, although maybe a little unsettling or sad for sensitive young readers.
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I started with the second book in the series, but very much enjoyed this first book. I think any of the three I have read so far can be read as a stand-alone, but they are so good you naturally want to read all of them.
Challice Neipp
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This started a bit slow for me. Maybe it was the whole aristocracy? This is the story of Katya who is the daughter of a lady-in-waiting to the Empress Alexandra and the royal family of Tsar Nicholas. Living a more pampered life, Katya only knows of the rumored rebels through her cousin Misha. Katya begins to see what life has been like for those living in hardship and truly pampered she has lived her life. As the book goes along you begin to see what it was like in the beginning stages of the Ru ...more
Heather O'Neill
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: homeschool
This is a middle grade historical fiction account of the Romanov family in Russia from 1913-1918 when there was WWI and Russia was going through it's own revolution. It is told from the point of view of Katya, a young girl that lives her aristocratic mother. Her mother takes on the job of being a lady-in-waiting to the Empress so Kayta and her mother go to live with the Imperial family during this tumultuous time.

I was reading this to my boys (ages 10 & 8) as part of school that tied into th
Jan 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: historical, juvenile
Katya Ivanova is the daughter of a lady-in-waiting to Empress Alexandria. It is 1914 and there are stirrings of dissent, but the aristocracy is alive and well in Russia. Katya becomes a friend to the Grand Duchess Anastasia, as they grow, learn, and play together over the next four years. Eventually the empire falls, the Romanovs are executed, and the world that Katya has known disappears forever under the leadership of Lenin. Although the story is told in 1st person, the narrator doesn't seem t ...more
Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars. Ages 11+. It took a little while to get into it, but I thought it was a really lovely nuanced way to show the different sides of the Russian Revolution. I am a firm believer that the social and political issues of our day are not black and white, but instead there are good, real people on both sides and solutions can be found by listening to each other and working together in a spirit of compromise. How differently this episode in history might have ended if both the tsar and the re ...more
Kristina Ulrey
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
My son was studying Russia and so along with Russian composers, films and artists I was pleased to find a book about young people during the last days of the Romanovs. He became so enthralled with it that he started looking up information on Lenin, Tsar Nikolai, Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. He wanted to know so much about Stalin and Khrushchev. IMO any book that makes someone want to search out and lead them down a rabbit hole of knowledge is a great book. We are now currently trying to find the o ...more
Autumn T
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a history reading about the Russian Revolution and the Tsar's family. The main character, Katya, is a playmate of one of the Tsar's daughters. The book is written from Katya's point of view as she experiences the events leading up to the abdication and death of the Tsar.

I enjoyed this book because Katya is a very realistic character. It was much better than reading a textbook, as it gave some personal feeling to the Russian Revolution.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I picked up a copy of Angel on the Square at a local thrift shop for 75 cents after being intrigued by the cover and first few pages. It's one of the best purchases I've made. Whelan's writing is simply gorgeous, featuring stunningly descriptive writing and complex characters. It's a real page-turner--one of my favorites of the year. And yet very few people talk about it. I was excited to learn there are sequels this morning--do yourself a favor and check out this hidden gem!
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading and learned much about Russia from this and the other books in the St. Petersburg series. The author allowed the reader to see life during the times of the last tsar, WWI, WWII, and beyond through the eyes of the young main character telling the story. I especially liked the way she used similes to describe scenes.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's not quite as perfect as I remember it from childhood (there's really not much of a sense of friendship between Katya and Anastasia), but it's an excellent middle-grade historical fiction story all the same.

Last line:
(view spoiler)
* ᴋʀɪs ジェビル `` everyone knows the best place to hide is i n s a n i t y !``
It was great , really enjoyed seeing Russia from an aristrocrat's view back then . The author portrayed the events really well with a fun way to read it too . It made me a little sad though , as it really made the Tsar and his family seem like a loving family that Katya became apart of , and knowing that they died was depressing .
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Gloria Whelan is the best-selling author of many novels for young readers, including Homeless Bird, winner of the National Book Award; Friutlands: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect; Angel on the Square and its companion, The Impossible Journey; Once on this Island, winner of the Great Lakes Book Award; Farewell to the Island; and Return to the Island. She lives with her husband, Joseph, in the woods ...more

Other books in the series

St. Petersburg (4 books)
  • The Impossible Journey (Angel on the Square, #2)
  • Burying the Sun  (Angel on the Square, #3)
  • The Turning (Angel on the Square, #4)
“It is hard to give up what you know for what you don’t know.” 19 likes
“I thought I understood what was best. I knew too little and believed too soon.” 8 likes
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