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The Women's Decameron

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  155 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Like Boccacio's famous Florentines, Julia Voznesenskaya's Russian women are cunning and savvy—about all facets of the Soviet system. They know how to beat it and how to endure. Quarantined in a Leningrad maternity ward after giving birth, ten women from all walks of Soviet life amuse themselves by telling stories—stories that provide an astonishingly intimate and dramatic ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published 1986 by Quartet (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 508)
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Ben Winch
Dec 16, 2011 Ben Winch rated it really liked it
A profoundly human novel. I use the word novel despite appearances to the contrary: on one level this is a series of 100 short narratives, divided over 10 days and issuing from the mouths of 10 women. But ingeniously, between the short narratives there are passages, kept to a minimum but indispensible to the structure, in which the narrators respond to and criticise each other's stories. All of this could so easily be arch, flippant, a random-seeming patchwork, but in Voznesenskaya's hands it ma ...more
Chrisiant
Sep 20, 2007 Chrisiant rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I really had trouble getting into this book. It's a reinvention of Boccacio's 'Decameron' set in a quarantined maternity ward in the U.S.S.R. in the 1980's. To be fair, I never read the original Decameron, I just know of the general set-up/concept of it, so maybe I'm missing something vital, but I just felt like this version was a nice idea, but crappily realized.

The conversations between the women in the passages in between each of the women's stories I found dry and contrived. At the beginnin
...more
Laura Edwards
May 10, 2016 Laura Edwards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid four. A hint of repetition by the end was the only factor which kept the book from being a five. By the end, you pretty much knew what sort of story each women would share and there were really no surprises. My favorites were Zina and Nelya, who I felt was overlooked at times. She was so quiet and understated, yet her stories were powerfully poignant. And I loved Irishka's closing story. Summed up the whole of the book quite nicely.
Lady Demelza
Dec 23, 2014 Lady Demelza rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
I read this book when I was barely out of my teens, and I knew pretty close to nothing at all about life in the USSR. Well, did I get a education! It was the first novel I ever read that so vividly brought to life a foreign culture for me. I was amazed by the author's ability to paint such a detailed, complex and comprehensive picture of a world that was very real for many people in such a few simple scenes and stories. I had no idea so much of a world could be conveyed in so few pages of fictio ...more
Erma Odrach
Sep 07, 2009 Erma Odrach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, inspired by the classic The Decameron by Boccaccio, is set in modern-day Russia (1980's). Ten Russian women, including a shipyard worker, an engineer, a music teacher and others, are quarantined for 10 days in a Leningrad clinic after giving birth. For 10 days they each take turns telling a story from their life experiences. The book provides an interesting glimpse at how women were treated in Soviet Russia and how they survived. It's funny at times but also witty and sad.
Daisy
Nov 09, 2008 Daisy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Muphyn, Marieke, Alenka, Christine
Just exactly my cup of tea (cliche I know but it's true here). I devoured this book and its characters. I could fall into this world, I don't know why, but that's why I like the book as much as I do. The writing's only okay, or the translation is, but I didn't want it to end.
Elsje
May 19, 2011 Elsje rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2005
Al lang stond op mijn te herlezen lijstje de Vrouwendecamerone van Julia Voznesenskaja. En toen er een paar maanden geleden bij de boekgrrls enthousiast over de 'echte' decamerone werd gemaild, voegde ik de daad bij het woord en herlas het. Stukje bij beetje want het is een heftig boek.

Het beschrijft een kraamafdeling in een Russisch ziekenhuis van halverwege de jaren '80, de Sovietunie was toen nog een. Doordat er een of ander probleem is (dat wordt niet duidelijk) moeten 10 totaal verschillend
...more
Joje
Jul 10, 2010 Joje rated it really liked it
I felt comfortable closing it at the end of 1-3 tales and setting it aside, knowing it'll be there tomorrow for a new tale, which is why it has taken so long to finish it, not to mention the interruptions for trips or other such.
The ironies about life in the Soviet Union are a lot of fun, the good natured taletellers, too: a mix of serious situations usually (not always) taken lightly, as for other story collections that this mimics. The best was when they all insisted that it was lies to clai
...more
Susan Lester
Jan 25, 2015 Susan Lester rated it it was amazing
A reinvention of Boccacio, this Decameron is a good examination of woman's experience in Russian culture.
Vicki Turner
May 25, 2016 Vicki Turner rated it liked it
I first read this book twenty something years ago on the recommendation of my creative writing teacher, and enjoyed it hugely. Having come across a second hand copy I decided to reread it, but have not derived the same satisfaction or pleasure this time round. As the book hasn't changed I'm guessing it is me! The writing seemed a bit flat this time, but I still think the concept is wonderful. I would love to see it performed on stage.
Sandy
Jul 30, 2012 Sandy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russia, fiction
I read this for a Russian women writers class in grad school. 10 women are stuck together in a maternity ward and each day they tell a story on a chosen theme. The women are from varying backgrounds and you get a glimpse of what life was like for them in their different socio-economic levels. It's well-written, funny, horrifying and inspiring. It didn't hurt that a Russian friend of mine swore her experiences in the RodDom were much like this book too.
M. Winslow
Apr 28, 2016 M. Winslow rated it it was amazing
An amazing collection of 100 stories told by women in, I believe, the USSR, and their loves/lives/struggles during a 10-day period after they give birth to their babies.
Deborah
Tremendous book: for its sympathetic frame story and the stories (some outstanding; one I actually typed up in its entirety before returning the copy to my local library) give a thought-provoking composite of that unknown figure: the modern woman under the Soviet regime.
Rita
Ti kvinder, som ligger på en fødeklinik i Leningrad, underholder hinanden med saftige, sjove og sørgelige historier fra deres liv, som tilsammen giver et broget billede af almindelige menneskers tilværelse i Sovjetunionen
Bettie☯
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Travelling on to Joje in Paris
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Gift from Hayes - thankee!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
June Schwarz
Jun 22, 2012 June Schwarz rated it liked it
I read this book a long time ago, whilst on a trip to BC. I like the structure and have reread it several times since.
Leigh Roberts
Jan 22, 2013 Leigh Roberts rated it it was amazing
Read a very long time ago but remember it being very good
Sarah
Jun 18, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing
the hardship of Russia
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Julia Nikolayevna Voznesenskaya (Russian: Юлия Николаевна Вознесенская), born on 14 September 1940 in Leningrad, is a Russian author of books with an Orthodox Christian worldview.

In 1976 Voznesenskaya was sentenced to four years of exile for Anti-Soviet Propaganda. In 1980 she emigrated to Germany. In 1996-1999 she lived in Lesninsky Russian Orthodox Convent in Chauvincourt-Provemont, Normandy, Fr
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