Thursday, May 12, 2016
Firebird by Susana Kearsley
Though she wants to hide her supernatural gifts, Nicola finds that increasingly difficult to do. When a woman tries to sell a Russian relic in the art and antiquities gallery where she works, Nicola feels motivated to use her psychometric abilities.
Holding the relic in her hands, Nicola knows the woman's story is true; the relic has been a gift from the Empress Catherine of Russia handed down through generations of the woman's family.
Proving the provenance of the wooden object, however, is much more of a challenge. Nicola contacts an old boyfriend, Rob, who has even more sophisticated psychic abilities. He can see past events in his mind merely by visiting a place.
Working together, Rob and Nicola learn Anna's story, the woman who had originally been gifted with the firebird.
What they witness is startling and heart-breaking. When the English force the Jacobites to flee Scotland, Anna's relatives send her to a convent in Ypres for safekeeping. Betrayed by a girl she befriended a the convent, Anna flees to Calais where she faces even more spies.
In St. Petersburg, Anna is adopted by a kind man to whom she has never revealed her true identity. She becomes Anna Niktovna ("Nobody") to protect her Scottish relatives.
After Anna takes a job in St. Petersburg, as a lady's companion. At this new household, Anna becomes intrigued by rakish Mr. Edmund O'Leary, a relative of her employer.
Kearsley relates an epic, powerful love story about the courage to assert one's own identity in the midst of political turmoil.
This novel is well-researched and employs fully developed characters.
If you enjoy The Firebird, you may also enjoy Paullina Simon's The Bronze Horseman.