Monday, November 13, 2006

Book Review: Angel on the Square

Title: Angel on the Square
Author: Gloria Whelan
Age Suitability: 8 and up (as a read aloud for younger ages). I would have put a higher age on this, but Star loved it.

Our Gloria Whelan season continues. I do like her books! They are well written and enjoyable, and they cover topics for which good fiction is hard to find. Angel on the Square is the first of a quartet of books set in twentieth century Russia. It tells the story of the Russian Revolution from the inside - the main character, Katya, is the teenage daughter of a countess who becomes lady-in-waiting to the Empress Alexandra. Living at the imperial palace, she shares the lives of the Tsar's four daughters and is companion to the youngest, Anastasia. Thanks to her student cousin Misha, she also sees something of the hardship endured by ordinary Russians.

There is a fair amount of historical information woven into the story. It gives a glimpse of the causes of the Revolution, and distinguishes between its two phases - the initial, moderate Revolution led by Kerensky, and Lenin's October Revolution. The Tsar and his family become real people to the reader, as does the Queen's evil genius, Rasputin (you may want to be aware that the book includes a brief episode in which Rasputin tries to assault a servant girl).

If this book whets your appetite for reading about the Russian Revolution, another I would recommend is The White Nights of St.Petersburg by Geoffrey Trease. Better for an older audience - say 12 and up? Not because of any inappropriate content, but just because it is more complex. This one has a young man as the leading character, so may be a better choice for older boys. Sadly, it is out of print (as are many of Trease's books - a shame as he wrote some great historical fiction).

1 comment:

Alice said...

Thanks for the review! I love Gloria Whelan!