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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Under A Blood Red Sky/The Red Scarf by Kate Furnivall

Under a Blood Red Sky
Genre: Historical Fiction

Copyright: 2008

Pages: 512


Rating 4 Crowns

At its heart is an intense love story. But it is also driven by the powerful bonds of friendship between two young women, Sofia and Anna.

They are imprisoned in Davinsky Labour Camp, Siberia 1933. When Anna falls gravely ill, Sofia makes a promise to escape the camp and find Vasily, Anna’s childhood love. Her perilous search takes her to a remote Urals village where she discovers a web of secrecy and lies, but also bonds of courage and loyalty – and an overwhelming love that threatens her promise to Anna.

As Stalin’s fist squeezes ever tighter, Sofia is tantalisingly close to freedom, family – even a future. All that stands in her way is the secret that could endanger everything...

Okay, I admit it. I bought this book for the cover. I knew nothing about the author or her previous works, I was just drawn to it for the shallow appreciation of some beautiful cover-art. Because, hey, with a cover like that, it has to be a good book. Right?

Right. It turned out to be a very enjoyable read and definitely lived up to the promise that gorgeous cover makes. It is a story that understands women and shows us for the incredibly loyal and incredibly complex creatures that we are. The friendship of Sofia and Anna showed what I alredy knew in my deepest heart to be true - that women are capable of carrying each other through the most unspeakable attrocities. It showed that although the body can be starved for food the heart can still remain full up on hope and love alone.

The layers of this novel are complex and I admire the way Furnivall sketched so finely not just the political climate but the people of Russia. In a world gone mad with so much rich and fascinating history it would be easy for an author to loose sight of her characters...especially the minor ones. But Furnivall doesn't seem to struggle with this. All of the people that inhabit her novel have real heart.

And while I have just lavished all this praise on the book, I have to be completely honest and say that from about page 300 to 400, I wanted to put it down. There seemed to be a 100 page section where the plot wasn't moving fast enough and the love story, which is a major element to this book, wasn't working for me. It had a fantastic beginning but by the middle I wasn't sure if I liked it anymore. So I really wasn't sure until the final page what rating I was going to give it.

I am so glad I got to the last page though! It had a fantastic finale and some really unpredictable plot points. Don't you just love it when a plot can surpise you like that without seeming cliched? For that reason, I would recommend reading this book fast. Don't spread it out over a week, read it over two days so you don't feel tempted to set it aside. You'll be kicking yourself if you do. Kate Furnivall is a smart author and every seed she plants in this novel is for a reason...and you don't want to miss the garden she grows from it!

Princess of the Past

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Marg said...

I have really enjoyed both of the Furnivall books I have read. I am looking forward to reading her latest book which is a sequel to her first one!

Jennifer said...

More books to buy. :) My reading pile keeps growing, but it makes me happy. :) Keep up with the fun reviews.

ibeeeg said...

This sounds like a good book for me to branch out with in my historical fiction reading. On to my to-read list it goes.
Thanks for the review.