Reviews index

May 03 2007

Rubies in the snow by Kate Hubbard

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Allen and Unwin 2007
Age 12 -14 The world of the Tsar of Russia is recreated in this diary novel of his daughter, Anastasia. She reveals her claustrophobic world through her entries telling of her daily activities. Her mother is often ill, lying down in her bedroom; her younger brother is protected and has a guardian, lest he fall and bleed; her sisters are on the verge of coming out and so are watching the young men carefully; stories about 'our friend' abound. Little by little the author introduces the poverty and despair that was Tsarist Russia, a backdrop to Anastasia's narrow world. As war breaks out and people begin to be openly hostile towards the Royal family, Anastasia's diary tells us of her outrage but she is oblivious to what it all means. Their lives are changing but she cannot see why. She helps the wounded in an army hospital, seeing first hand the effects of the war. When the revolution occurs and she is imprisoned with her family, she still dreams of going to the Crimea for her holidays.
Astute readers will find hints as to what happens all the way along, and for those who already know, the entries are often poignant. The author has made a credible job of portraying Anastasia's world to the modern reader, and this book could well be used when studying Tsarist Russia and the Revolution.
Fran Knight


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