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The Women's Decameron
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The Women's Decameron

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  15 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

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Ben Winch
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
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
Erma Odrach
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 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
Deborah Schwartz Jacobs
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.
Lady Demelza
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
Susan Lester
A reinvention of Boccacio, this Decameron is a good examination of woman's experience in Russian culture.
Sandy
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.
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Read a very long time ago but remember it being very good
Sarah
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
...more
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