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Angel On The Square [Paperback]

Gloria Whelan
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 2 2003
A Life of Luxury

In the fall of 1914, safe behind palace walls, Katya Ivanova sees St. Petersburg as a magical place. The daughter of a lady-in-waiting to the Empress, Katya spends all her time with the Grand Duchesses; the royal family feels like her own. But outside the palace, a terrible war is sweeping through Europe, and Russia is beginning to crumble under the weight of a growing revolution. Now, as Katya's once-certain future begins to dissolve, she must seek to understand what is happening to her beloved country and, for the first time in her life, take charge of her own destiny.


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From Amazon

From the author of the 2000 National Book Award winner, Homeless Bird, comes an evocative glimpse into a chilling period in world history. Gloria Whelan manages to take the fly-on-the-wall approach one step further in her latest piece of historical fiction. In Angel on the Square, a young girl joins Russian Tsar Nikolai II, Empress Alexandra, and their children when her mother becomes one of the empress's ladies-in-waiting. Katya Ivanova, as companion to the Romanov children, has an insider's view of the crumbling of tsarist Russia from 1913 to 1918. Initially, life is lavish and amusing for this young aristocrat, although her friend Misha's revolutionary ideas often battle in her mind with her own loyalty to the tsar. Gradually, though, the world outside begins to enter the palace walls, and Katya's life--along with that of all nobility--changes forever.

Whelan's balanced treatment of both sides of the Russian revolution is remarkably accessible. Katya is an appealing protagonist; readers will hang on her every word as she is transformed from a spoiled, sheltered child into a caring, hard-working adult. Young readers couldn't ask for a better introduction to this terrifying, earthshaking epoch in history. (Ages 10 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Whelan (Homeless Bird) shows both sides of the Russian revolution in a sympathetic light in this absorbing saga of an aristocratic girl. The novel opens in 1913, just before Katya goes to live with Tsar Nikolai II, when her widowed mother becomes lady-in-waiting to the Empress. The royal couple and their children are like a second family to Katya. Still, the heroine cannot completely support the tsar's treatment of his people. Guided by her revolutionist friend, Misha, she witnesses the exploitation of workers in the city. Later, her exposure to country peasants forces her to realize that her own noble family is partially responsible for the peasants' suffering. On the other hand, Katya does not condone the violent reaction to oppression that is sweeping across her beloved country. Tracing each stage of Katya's enlightenment through intimate first-person narrative, Whelan brings immediacy to the historical events, offering well-rounded depictions of characters and vivid descriptions of their surroundings. The author sharply contrasts the luxurious conditions Katya enjoys in her early adolescence with the meagerness of her life five years later at the revolution's end. The book's uncomplicated language and sensitive treatment of political issues make it an excellent, vibrant introduction to the cause and effects of Tsar Nikolai's fall. Ages 10-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I could feel the crowd holding its breath, awaiting the moment when Tsar Nikolai II and Empress Alexandra would arrive. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Angel on the Square July 5 2006
Format:Hardcover
Beginning in 1913 and ending in 1918, young Ekaterina, nicknamed Katya, is the daughter of an aristocrat widow. Katya has always known a life of pleasure, happiness, opulence, and unending luxury. Her orphaned older cousin, Mikhail, whom everyone calls Misha, lives with Katya and her mother in their large mansion estate in the city of St. Petersburg. Misha constantly attempts to explain to Katya that the Russian government, meaning Tsar Nikolai II and Empress Alexandra, is corrupt, and because of that corruption, many common people are suffering from exhaustion, poverty, starvation, and too much work. But, unlike Misha, Katya is still at a young and innocent age where she is unaware of the horrors many peasants and commoners are facing. She believes that whatever happens, the Tsar will make sure everyone is happy in Russia.

But that is not the case.

Soon, Katya's mother---having been a longtime good friend of Empress Alexandra---receives a notice, requesting that she be a lady-in-waiting for the Empress. Katya's mother decides to bring along her daughter, as well, for the Empress stressed that her youngest and most mischievous daughter, the Grand Duchess Anastasia, is in need of a companion her age, which Katya is. Katya is delighted t the prospect of coming to The Winter Palace and serve the Imperial family, but just before they leave, Misha takes his younger cousin on a journey throughout the slums and back-alleys of St. Petersburg. Katya is horrified to see how filthy the people look, and how terrible their working conditions in the factories are. But, alas, Misha has still faile in his effort to convince Katya of the Tsar's governmental faults. Katya promises that she will inquire of the commoners' conditions to Tsar Nikolai when she and her mother leave.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excitement from the Russian Revolution Nov. 17 2006
Format:Paperback
A book about the Russian revolution, this intriguing novel gives many different views on the subject. The story is told from the point of view of Katya, the daughter of a friend of the Russian Queen who becomes a lady in waiting. At the end of the Russian Revolution she becomes a peasant. This allows views from the aristocracy, but you also get to look at the point of view of her cousin, Misha, who is a revolutionary himself. Misha was also in the army. These different views help you understand what it was like at the time of the Russian Revolution for different people.

Even without pictures the text is amazing. You want to keep reading to find out what happens next. I really cared about Katya and Misha and I wanted to know that they were going to be ok. There was tension in the book, especially when they returned home to find that their homes no longer existed. I was worried at this point, but I still trusted that the author would work things out.

If you like historical novels, and enjoyed Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson, you will definitely enjoy this novel as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction March 10 2002
Format:Hardcover
This book is a good introduction to the Russian Revolution for middle and upper grade readers. It is interesting enough to keep them reading, without bogging down in too much detail. It doesn't give much political insight, however. It is mostly interesting for introducing the story of the Romanovs in a sympathetic way, through the eyes of a young girl.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Dull May 15 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Angel on the Square is a good piece of literature, but not particularly outstanding. I enjoyed reading it, but I am also emotionally attached to almost everything I read in 2003-2004 so my own phsychological wierdness accounts for most of my approval of Gloria Whelan's book.
The main problem, I felt, with Angel on the Square was how much of a dry read it was. I've read many historical fiction books concerning the Romanov family, and sadly nearly all of them relay the exact same events in almost the exact same way. This book was more eloquent and more entertaining to read than a lot of the rest, but it isn't daring or imaginative and it didn't tell me anything I didn't know. I also find it interesting that the author made a character up instead of defining a less familiar Romanov, such as Olga or Tatiana or even one of the family's friends. But they must all write about Anastasia - even if it's indirect - because Anastasia was the Last Grand Duchess. What exactly is wrong with being the third-to-last Grand Duchess?
The writing style was very impersonal. Gloria Whelan obviously tried very hard to make the Romanovs or Rasputin or the peasants at the Oaks, which was Katya's family's summer retreat, as though they had their own minds in their heads by their actions, but I never felt like any of those actions had any weight. They all seemed to act in one way, too. Stepan, one of the peasants, was always spiteful and grouchy unless he was being whipped by the overseer of the Oaks, Vitya, who was always lying and embezzling unless he was choking rabbits to death. All of the characterization for the Romanov family seemed to come directly out of history books instead of out of an understanding of human nature. All things considered, it was very much like a soap opera.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Confusing April 17 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is all about the Russian and the German war and how Katya the lady in waiting goes to live with the imperial family of Russia. This book takes place over a 5 year period of time which is very confusing to tell. This book is confusing and at the first two pages where the author is supposed to grab the reader, it threw 20 different characters at the reader. Who wants to read a confusing and not good book? There was a couple parts I would rate 2 and half stars but otherwise, CAUTION! bad book.(...)
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Angel On Square-a book for the whole family
Ekaterina Ivanova, better known as Katya, is the daughter of Irina Petrovna, who is a very close friend to the empress of Russia. Read more
Published on July 27 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best children's books out there
Gloria Whelan is absolutely extraordinary in this book. I am a Romanov history buff, so that's probably one reason I loved it so much. Read more
Published on Dec 14 2002 by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked Homeless Bird, you will love this!!
12 year old Katya lives in St.Petersburg in 1914. She is an aristocrat and doesn't know about the world outside of her. Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2002 by Maryam
5.0 out of 5 stars An emotional new novel by Gloria Whelan
Twelve-year-old Katya Ivanova has everything anyone would want. She lives in St.Petersburg, Russia with her mother who is a close friend to the Empress Alexandra. Read more
Published on May 7 2002 by hiphopgirl_1000
5.0 out of 5 stars A historical fiction masterpiece.
In pre-War Russia, a revolution rages. Katya and her mother, however, live in luxury -- their home is with the Tsar and the Empress, and their four daughters -- Olga, Tatiana,... Read more
Published on March 15 2002 by "shayamorph"
2.0 out of 5 stars A well-meaning failure
This is just one more of those books written based not on facts but on other people's books. The author has taken the popular overly-simplistic view of the Tsar and made him look... Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
When I first saw the title of the book, I thought it would be another one of those boring books about girls. But it wasn't. This book has really taught me about russian revolution. Read more
Published on Oct. 1 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to the Russian Revolution for children
The author presents a moving and compassionate picture of life under the last years of Tsar Nicholas II from the point of view of an adolescent girl who grew up in priviledged... Read more
Published on Sept. 23 2001 by E. Rodin MD
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