Married: husband's name Norman (a writer); children: two sons. Education: Studied at London University.
Home— Devon, England. Agent— Teresa Chris, 43 Musard Rd., London W6 8NR, England. E-mail— [email protected]
Writer. Worked variously in the publishing and advertising industries.
The Russian Concubine(novel), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of the Web log Kate Furnivall, Author.
Kate Furnivall is a writer who lives in England. Furnivall grew up in Penarth, a small town in southeastern Wales on the Bristol Channel. Eventually she moved to London and studied English at London University. Upon graduation she began working in the publishing industry, where she would often write materials for various books on the canals of the United Kingdom. She later left publishing and went to work in advertising. It is here that she met her husband, Norman, and began traveling around the world. Shortly after Furnivall's two sons were born, the family moved out of London and into a rural, 300-year-old thatched cottage where Norman focused on his writing. They later moved back to the seaside in the southwestern English county of Devon, where she completed her first novel,The Russian Concubine.
Furnivall became increasingly interested in her family ancestry while going through old photographs of her mother and grandmother. She knew little, but her mother, shortly before her death in 2000, revealed a surprising story of how they fled Russia in the days of Stalin and lived in China and India before settling in the United Kingdom. In an interview with Kelly Hewitt on the Loaded Questions Web site, Furnivall said of her mother: "My mother was a remarkable woman. Despite the many traumas of her life—or more probably because of them—she was a woman with a true inner grit that made her cling on to life and cling on to anything of beauty." Furnivall took the story her mother related and created a fictional tale based on their experiences and situations. In the story Valentina and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Lydia, cheat and steal to survive in the international quarters of Junchow, China. Lydia makes enemies of a Chinese gang but also falls in love with freedom-fighter Chang An Lo. The difficulties of the pair are magnified by the times of war-torn China and the desire for Westerners to leave the land altogether.
Reviews for Furnivall's debut novel were mixed. In an interview on the Loaded Questions Web site, Hewitt stated: "I was enthralled by The Russian Concubine by the time I finished the first chapter." Hewitt added that "what follows is a heart-wrenching scene." A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote that the author "vividly evokes Lydia's character and personal struggles against a backdrop of depravity and corruption." The same critic noted the thrilling story line, but said that the action was "not of the plot-advancing sort." In a Library Journal review, Leigh Wright pointed out the "quick" pacing of the story and called the characters "engaging." Wright, however, thought that "too many characters and unnecessary plot points cause this otherwise entertaining story to lose focus."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books, June 2, 2007, Kristin Kloberdanz, review of The Russian Concubine, p. 8.
Library Journal, July 1, 2007, Leigh Wright, review of The Russian Concubine, p. 76.
Publishers Weekly, May 7, 2007, review of The Russian Concubine, p. 39.
Times(London, England), November 16, 2007, Kate Saunders, review of The Russian Concubine.
Kate Furnivall Home Page,http://www.katefurnivall.com (November 21, 2007), author biography and interview.
Loaded Questions,http://loadedquestions.blogspot.com/ (November 21, 2007), Kelly Hewitt, author interview.