The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
This book included many things that interest me, one of which is psychometry--the "divination of facts concerning an object or its owner through contact with or proximity to the object." (Merriam-Webster) I know there are people who have this ability, to varying degrees. I believe that the majority of us humans have not yet begun to tap into many skills and abilities of which our brains are capable, such as psychometry. Nicola and Rob both have this ability: one chooses to ignore and suppress it, while the other uses it to his/her advantage. Not surprisingly, both of their families contain older relatives with this same ability. Following the present-day story and the story line in Empress Catherine's Russia is fascinating.
While the historical details are compelling, Kearsley's characterization is powerfully vivid; I literally felt as if the characters were in the room with me! The writing flows and you are transported to these different locations. When our book club read The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, one of the most enjoyable aspects of that book was feeling as if you were really THERE with the characters; and I felt that same way with The Firebird! I didn't want to put the book down until I had finished it, though of course, work, etc., got in the way of that desire!
I admit the ending was quite "happily ever after," which wouldn't appeal to me all the time, but it worked for this book. One of the most beneficial parts of this book was the "About the Characters" section at the end. It was very informative in describing her research and writing process. Perhaps I was at a point in my life that this was truly pertinent for me, because I felt as if it opened me to some valid writing ideas. And Kearsley was quite gracious and helpful in the Goodreads online discussion! My goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15942636-the-firebird
Thank you, Sourcebooks, for the opportunity to communicate directly with the author! That is always a wonderfully personal aspect of reading any book!