Angel on the Square Paperback – Jan 7 2003
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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. See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished on April 17 2004
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 morePublished on Dec 14 2002 by Kindle Customer
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 morePublished on Oct. 28 2002 by Maryam
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 morePublished on May 7 2002 by hiphopgirl_1000
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 morePublished on March 15 2002
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... Read morePublished on March 10 2002 by Laura Lynn Walsh
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 morePublished on Jan. 1 2002
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 morePublished on Sept. 30 2001
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