The Fabergé Girl by Ina Christova – Book Review

The Fabergé Girl by Ina Christova – Book Review

The Faberge Girl by Ina Christova

The Fabergé Girl

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1909, St Petersburg. Seventeen-year-old Alma longs to work at the legendary House of Fabergé, with its talented artisans, winding staircases, secret golden elevator, and glasshouse of tropical plants. But instead, Alma must sketch quietly in her room, inspired by magical visions that could have her accused of witchcraft, whilst her domineering brother presents her designs as his own.

But then comes an opportunity. With the help of a Finnish artisan Knut, she attracts the attention of Carl Fabergé himself and is given a job at the House of Fabergé. Alma’s creations attract widespread acclaim, and her star is on the rise. But the world around her is increasingly divided, as the Revolution creeps ever nearer. Alma will be forced to decide what matters most to her. Can love, art and beauty survive such hatred and violence?

At once a poignant love story, a magical coming of age tale and a haunting and evocative account of one of Russia’s darkest periods of history, Ina Christova’s transporting debut is based on the incredible true story of Alma Pihl, the only female jewellery designer at the House of Fabergé and her journey during the age of silver culture in St Petersburg.

Review by Stacey

The Fabergé Girl is a beautiful, mystical book set in the early 1900s in Russia. Alma is a young woman who has a special gift in that she sees her artistic work come to life and she goes into a kind of trance when she does. Her family sees her gift as a curse and wants to hide her away in case people think she is a witch. The only person who ever believed in her was her now-deceased father.

Her dream had always been to work for the house of Fabergé just like her father did and her brother Oskar and uncle currently do but she is told it is no place for a female. Her brother though has no trouble taking her designs and passing them off as his own.

The tale is based on one of the two female designers who worked for Fabergé, Alma Pihl. The story is so entrancing to read. We have a young woman going against the social norms at the time to do what was considered a ‘man’s’ job. We also see Alma wracked with guilt that she has such a privileged job working in a wealthy industry that is met with the realisation that the people of Russia are suffering and dying due to unrest and poverty.

I flew through this book in no time. The author has not only gotten her characters spot on but the setting and period came across strongly and it was easy to visualise 1900s Russia. The chapters were short which gave the book a fast-paced feel which I liked.

Overall, The Fabergé Girl is a truly amazing historical read and I learned a lot about Fabergé and Alma Pihl, a woman I had never heard of until now. The book is superb and if you love historical fiction this is definitely a book to pick up.

Ina Christova

Ina Christova

Ina Christova is a Bulgarian writer. When not travelling around the world, she splits her time between London and Oxford. She completed an MA in English and German Literature where she was the recipient of the Eleanor Boyle and Kathleen Major prizes for her writing.

Ina’s work has been longlisted for the Blue Pencil First Novel Awards and it won this year’s Novel London Literary Competition. The first draft of The Fabergé Girl was completed on the selective Curtis Brown Creative Course in London.

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