Sophie and her friends, Marianne and Delphine, are surprised to win places on a school trip to Russia. But the trip does not go as expected. Abandoned on an express train heading out of St Petersburg, the girls are thrown out at a disused station, where they are rescued and taken to the beautiful but faded Volkonsky Winter Palace, as guests of the exotic Princess Anna Feodorovna Volkonskaya.
Guarded by white wolves, the princess is an enigmatic figure, desperately searching for a rope of lost diamonds that could overturn the Volkonsky bad fortune. At first the girls are mesmerised by her stories but when she takes a special interest in Sophie, they begin to be afraid.
A book that will definitely be staying in the shelf until the girls are a bit older to read too. Although, definitely aimed at children, with a very easy manner I think it will still be a tad over there heads at this stage. Extremely predictable and not many surprises at all, it is still beautifully written and describes the scenes lovely. But with 273 pages not sure if it will be gripping enough for them at this stage.
It starts off with so much mystery, and I have to admit, was a mistake to start reading before I went to bed. I planned to read a chapter or two and instead found myself still reading after 2am before I had to put the book down and slept restlessly thinking of the endless possibilities. It is fustrating if they had all been honest at the start then half of what occured needed of but then I guess you would not have been a story.
It reminds me so much of Shirley Temples movie The Little Princess. An orphan attending a rich prestigious school happens on chance to show a wealthy russian around which leads to be invited to St Petersburg on a trip. Things go a little off track and ends up being a visitor of a princess in a run down palace. But nothing is what it seems.
I was more drawn to the wolves of the story. I have been fascinated by them since working in Alaska. They are amazing beauiful creatures and I am glad they are the true heros of the story. It painted them in such a beautiful light that I am sure peoples terrors would vanish after reading the story. A pack animal that truely needs to be admired.
I was also very thankful for the Russian glossary of words at the end of the book, it came in handy especially when tired and forgetting what the most frequent word been used was. A great little book I think that it will become a family favourite.
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