Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Red Scarf

The Red Scarf
The Red Scarf by Kate Furnivall
borrowed from the library
Description from Goodreads:
Davinsky Labor Camp, Siberia, 1933: Only two things in this wretched place keep Sofia from giving up hope: the prospect of freedom, and the stories told by her friend and fellow prisoner Anna, of a charmed childhood in Petrograd, and her fervent girlhood love for a passionate revolutionary named Vasily.

After a perilous escape, Sofia endures months of desolation and hardship. But, clinging to a promise she made to Anna, she subsists on the belief that someday she will track down Vasily. In a remote village, she’s nursed back to health by a Gypsy family, and there she finds more than refuge—she also finds Mikhail Pashin, who, her heart tells her, is Vasily in disguise. He’s everything she has ever wanted—but he belongs to Anna.

After coming this far, Sofia is tantalizingly close to freedom, family—even a future. All that stands in her way is the secret past that could endanger everything she has come to hold dear

My take:
I was looking forward to reading this book for my book club. It was highly recommended by one of our members. I did enjoy the book and finished it in one day. I thought the premise held a lot of promise and for the most part, it delivered.

The story began without any explanation as to why Sofia and Anna were in the labor camp. The stories explaining their lives and the reasons for the imprisonment are told gradually throughout the book. The character of Sofia is developed quite well and I felt I understood her. I didn't feel that Anna was quite as well developed despite the fact that it was her stories that helped Sofia survive the camp. 

After Sophia has escaped the camp and has begun her trek in search of Vasily, Sophia seems to grow as a person and the reader is able to learn so much more about her and later, about Mikhail. The lives of  the villagers are interesting and rather complex for such a small place.  The villagers are somewhat mysterious and I enjoyed this section of the book very much. The gypsy family was particularly fun to read about. I did clue into the mistaken identity fairly early, so I was expecting that revelation. 

The thing I disliked about the story was that I really didn't feel that Anna and Vasily were believable as a couple after all those years apart. Unlike Sophia and Mikhail, they were not allowed the time for their relationship to develop in the present. It was based solely on their past relationship in childhood and years of remembering and guilt about their actions.  It just didn't ring true or believable for me.

Most of the book was quite good, but the way it ended for Anna and Vasily just left me flat.  I did like Sofia and Mikhail's story from start to finish.

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