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Sašenjka (2008)

by Simon Sebag Montefiore(Favorite Author)
3.86 of 5 Votes: 3
Znanje, Zagreb
review 1: I've always been obsessed with Russian history, in particular the events leading to the 1917 revolution that murdered the Tsar, his family, as well as countless others, setting the stage for Stalin and decades of untold horrors, which remained shrouded in secrecy and encoded dossiers until the collapse of the USSR. In Simon Montefiore's sweeping novel, SASHENKA, we get an all-encompassing view of these pivotal, blood-soaked events through the eyes of the titular character - a wealthy Jewish girl who forsakes her well-heeled, unraveling family to join the ardent Bolshevik movement, only to discover years later that the egalitarian freedom she has upheld so completely will exact a tragic price. Mr Montefiore is a master of his setting. He brings to detailed life the opulent,... more decadent months preceding Rasputin's murder and the fall of the Tsar, revealing an underworld of intrigue, corruption, and blind hedonism, even as the empire crumbles. His depictions, in particular, of Sashenka's idealistic father and promiscuous mother, as well as her bombastic writer-uncle, Gideon, and steeped-in-Bolshevik-intrigue maternal uncle, Mendel, who recruits her to the cause, personify the complexity of a society teetering on the verge of annihilation. Many of the secondary characters who follow are equally well drawn, as is the politically-charged, terror-infused reign of Stalin himself, who makes a brief yet memorable appearance. The novel challenges somewhat in the portrayal of Sashenka, whose stoicism, unyielding devotion to the cause, and apparent trust in the treachery all around her can frustrate at moments, until she embarks on a forbidden affair that will be her doom. But she is rendered true to life: a Communist woman like so many in Russia during this period, who believes wholeheartedly in Stalin's rule and the sacrifices it requires. Her fate haunts us as she comes to grips with the horrifying truth, forced into a soul-rending choice that will reverberate into 1984, when, after the end of Communism, a young Russian historian is hired to discover the lost origins of an oligarch's aging mother.Sashenka is one of those novels that are impossible to forget: the story is illuminating, heartbreaking, yet never pedantic. It grips the reader and pulls us into a world rarely explored in historical fiction, one that certainly deserves more novels in this vein.
review 2: A nice historical fiction from a non-fiction writer. Clearly, the author is grounded in this era and provides an interesting story to make the era accessible to us. However, the characters are flat through most of the book. But, even characters that are not particularly well drawn, are interesting in an this tumultuous era with which few of us are well acquainted. This book is an enjoyable read although somewhat predictable. less
Reviews (see all)
I felt I learned a lot about the Stalin years and the book was entertaining.
It was ok, but I felt not the epic it could have been.
wow, loved it
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