Tuesday, February 17, 2015

White Gardenia

I just finished reading White Gardenia. It is a riveting book! I am a history buff and enjoyed reading about events that happened in China at the end of World War II.

White Gardenia by Belinda Alexandra takes us back to 1945 in Harbin, China. Anya (Anna Victorovna Kozlova) is the daughter of a Victor Grigorovich Kozlov, a White Russian, and Alina Pavlovna Kozlova. White Russians had to flee Russia after the Czar was forced to abdicate (1917) and find sanctuary in other countries (Paris, United States, United Kingdom, and China). Anya’s father went to China where he met Alina. Anya is thirteen years old when her father dies in an accident. After the end of World War II, the Communist marked into Harbin and took over. Anya and her mother were taken prisoner. Alina is sent to Russia to a labor camp and Anya is taken prison by an awful man named Tang. Anya is rescued from Tang by friends and sent to Shanghai.

In Shanghai Anya stays with Sergei and his wife, Amelia (a very nasty woman). Sergei owns a popular nightclub called Moscow-Shanghai. Anya goes to school until she is fifteen when she starts working at the club. From the beginning Anya is attracted to Sergei’s club manager, Dimitri. Life is not ideal for Anya. Sergei while nice is also an opium addict. Amelia is just after Sergei’s money and treats Anya terribly. Anya and Dimitri marry when Anya turns sixteen.  

Shortly after their wedding the Communist army invades Shanghai. All foreigners are told they have to leave the city (or they will be executed). Thanks to a friend at the American consulate, Anya gets on the last boat out of Shanghai. All the refugees are sent to The Philippines. Anya meets new friends at Tubabad. Ruselina and her granddaughter, Irina become Anya’s new family. Anya also catches the attention of Ivan Nakhimovsky. The refuges are given choices of where they can go. Anya ends up in Australia.

In Australia they live temporarily in a refugee camp until assigned jobs (one of the conditions for getting into Australia). Anya and Irina first work at Betty’s restaurant. Anya then gets a job at the Sydney Herald as an assistant and moves up to Beauty Editor (beauty and fashion were big after the war). Anya lives her life, but she is never completely happy. She is always wondering what happened to her mother.
Does Anya ever find out what happened to her mother? Will they reconnect? Can Anya find love and be happy? Read White Gardenia to find out the answers to the questions.
I tried to give you a synopsis of the book without spoilers.  White Gardenia has a complicated plot and many characters.  I give White Gardenia 4 out of 5 stars.  The book is well-written and easy to read (you do not even notice how long it is), but could have done with a little more editing.  I hope you enjoy White Gardenia as much as I did.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
White Gardenia is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.  It came out today (February 17, 2015).
Thank you for reading my review.  I hope you have had a fun Fat Tuesday (last day of Mardi Gras).  Have a great week and Happy Reading!


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