The Jewel of St. Petersburg has got everything I look for in a good novel: historical events that matter , vivid people making hard choices, a heart-felt love story, a heart-pounding plot. Kate Furnivall captures so well the bitter irony of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution: the revolutionaries became the tyrants they overthrew. She shakes all kinds of details into the novel to make it rich: the names of cars, the description of the Neva River, daily life at a hospital, the dangerous sewers.
The love story between Jens and Valentina were real enough. Her tenacious love for her sister and Jens pushed her into places and decisions that kept me whipping through the pages.
So I’m trying to figure out why I didn’t like it more. ***SPOILER*** I know I’m irked by the inclusion of the first chapter of The Russian Concubine at the end of the novel. It should’ve come with its own spoiler alert because it completely derails (quite literally) how The Jewel concludes. And yes, I know that The Jewel is a prequel and the fate of Jens and Valentina is already ‘out there’. So, there has to be more to my dissatisfaction. I think it has to do with the execution of the love story. The two love each other practically at first sight and rarely fight beyond some irritating tiffs about Valentina’s intended. That’s all well and fine–I’m getting kinda annoyed with stories where the couples fight about everything and we’re supposed to call it sexual tension. I guess given the extreme social and political upheaval they were in, I wanted to see their love undergo a trial, too. But I fully admit that could just be me. It’s definitely worth reading and deciding for yourself.
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