THE CROWN AND THE CRUCIBLE by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella
This is the beginning of a series of stories that will teach you as well as entertain you. It will give you a history lesson of the beginning of the country of Russia and how the people lived and struggled and loved. There are two distinct "classes" in Russia at this time, during the 1800's, the pre-revolutionary era. You will find yourself getting to know and understand both "classes" and to understand just how different the people lived then.
Anna Yevnovna Burenin is a peasant girl who is fortunate(?) to be taken from her family and the tiny village of Katyk and find work in a prince's palace in St. Petersburg. Life will not be easy for Anna as she adjusts to the harsh demands of life in the home of the Fedorcenko family. When Princess Katrina Fedorcenko decides to make Anna her personal maid life gets slightly easier for her. Then there is Prince Sergei who is thoughtful and caring and not at all like the rest of his family. He actually sees Anna as a person, who you can talk to and share your thoughts with. You will also meet Anna's brother Paul, who is caught up on the whole revolution idea. The Balkan War is beginning in this story also and you will see the needless death and slaughter taking place. There is a lot of things going on and you will understand a lot of Russian culture as you read. I felt for the people of Russia as they struggle to just exist and for others who have so much and are so privileged and care so little for those "beneath" them. This is a long series and this book kind of sets the stage for what will be happening throughout the rest of this series. It was a good beginning and I look forward to reading the next story.