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There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  769 ratings  ·  152 reviews
Love stories, with a twist: the eagerly awaited follow-up to the great Russian writer's New York Times bestselling scary fairy tales.

By turns sly and sweet, burlesque and heartbreaking, these realist fables of women looking for love are the stories that Ludmilla Petrushevskaya—who has been compared to Chekhov, Tolstoy, Beckett, Poe, Angela Carter, and even Stephen King—is
Paperback, 171 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Aug 22, 2014 karen marked it as reviewed-for-fun
seriously, penguin?? you deny me the netgalley??


did you think i was jason?? because i am not!! this is a great injustice!!!!
Ashley Olson
All of the stories go like this, in the same fashion as the title:

"It went like this:

There one was a girl who seduced her sister's husband, and he hanged himself."

"It went like this: There was an adult woman who lived with her grandmother and then her lover came over after work and they had sex on the couch with her grandmother in the same room, then the grandmother died and then the woman became pregnant."

"It went like this: There was a fat old woman who was fat because she was poor and she hat
Reading Petrushevskaya is like being cornered by a really charismatic stranger and being told about lives you'd really rather not hear about. And perhaps those are the best stories, where you have to listen, mesmerised and a bit appalled. It leaves a lingering discomfort because that story was told to you and you're not quite sure why. It has to mean something.
I loved Petrushevskaya's collection There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby so launched into these as soon as I h
I was reading this today while I gave blood. The nurse asked me what it was and I showed her the title. She asked if they were true stories. At first I said no. And then I changed my mind.

This time I did read the introduction before the book, then I read it again afterwards. Anna Summers puts it well:
The changes [Petrushevskaya] introduces in vocabulary, perspective, rhythm, and intonation sneak up on us, and before we know it we have implicitly forgiven bizarre, bewildering, and often vulgar be
I have to admit that I enjoyed the previous collection far more than this one. There is less magic realism in these stories, and a sense of wonder or charm seems to be missing. There are some very good ones such as “Milogram,” “Like Penelope,” “The Goddess Parka,” and “Father and Mother”. The last is rather good. The theme is relationships, in particular a weird type of battle of the sexes that also involves the government that tries to go after everyone. Perhaps this is a Russian theme; however ...more
I feel a little bit like I might be underrating this book, since I liked it, but feel it's not as strong a collection as her "Scary Fairy Tales" book, which was devastatingly good. The idea of this collection is that these are love stories, though the introduction tries a different, and perhaps more accurate track, that these are really stories about motherhood, and the love that seems to get things done here is mother love.

The first stories felt underdeveloped to me, sketches that needed the de
The title of this book begs reading, and having initially skipped the intro by the translator, I charged through the first few "love stories" with no sense of what to expect. These "love stories" are certainly not about love, not the dreamy American version anyway, and they're not really stories, either. More like dismal little anecdotes about impoverished Russians who will never escape their hopeless circumstances. It could be a cultural disconnect, but I didn't find any "delight in her humor." ...more
I've read my share of Russian literature, but nothing quite like the stories of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. She writes of the harsh everyday existence melded with just enough absurdity to make it palatable. These are stories of neglected young girls, wives, mothers, and widows looking for love in humble and inhospitable circumstances. The love they uncover is not redemptive, but it is enough to sustain them. They are making the best of a bad situation, but this isn't an instance of taking lemons an ...more
Tejas Janet
3.5 stars - The stories here are uneven with some overly short and sketchy, others longer and more fully developed, but they all share a common element of stark, pragmatic realism that deftly finds and exposes the fault lines inherent in real-life experiences of love and splits the fantasy wide open to reveal the inner vulnerability, neuroses, tenderness, bitterness, ugliness, and at times beauty. That the author accomplishes this with such economy of words is remarkable.

The Lit Bitch
4.5 stars.

Petrushevskaya stripped off the rose colored glasses and showed us what love really is sometimes and yet underneath all the grit and darkness there is beauty to be appreciated in each story. Petrushevskaya has shown us that love can find us all even in the darkest of times. Love isn’t just something that happens in fairy tales or in Nicholas Sparks novels… is messy.

I love books that go against the grain and challenge tradition and this book did just that. I loved that each of the
Billy O'Callaghan
Not all of these stories work, and some do feel (as has already been mentioned in other review) undeveloped, like sketches that haven't been developed to their fullest potential. But the best of what's here are full of humour and pathos – and, in moments, even genuine heartbreak – and act as a searing commentary not only on the society depicted but also the universality of the outsider's desperation for a gesture of love, no matter how fleeting.
Occasionally, the light does shine through, as in '
Why did I pick this novel up?

BecauseI loved the title. Come on, it's a great title.

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories is an anthology of "love" stories set in Russia set in the height of the USSR and Communism. I surround the word love in quotes because they're not the type of love stories I'm used to. Sort of like the love that rises against all opposing forces and conquers all. Sort of cheesy and unrealistic love.

This is not the type o
I like that this book, as you may have guessed from the truly wonderful title, is not about love stories the way Disney is about love stories. These tales are more about the side effects of love, what happens when guards are let down and lives are ruined and people plod on through life despite circumstances and emotions they wish they could disown. I enjoyed that edge to this collection, but the writing itself was a bit too distant for me. It may be the cultural disconnect, though the introducti ...more
Tim Lewis
Premise: Even in the midst of Communist Russia, perhaps especially in such a place, people desire human connection. In this collection of dark short stories, each person lives a life in close quarters with others, yet still can’t seem to manage healthy close relationships. Women reach out to married men for romance, men cheat on their wives looking for excitement, children desire affection, and all under the haze of alcohol to block out the pain they wallow in.

We bump against people every day. W
Once in awhile you see a title that jumps at you and practically forces you to read the book it graces. I went in search of the amazingly titled Petrushevskaya collection There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby and came away instead with There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself. Try to read that title and not fill with curiosity. I dare you.

Petrushevskaya is a Russian writer who was suppressed by the Soviets, and while she seems to fi
I have to say that I do not have mush experience reading Russian books or authors. However I have read authors from other countries and I can tell a difference in the writing styles of these authors to U.S. authors. They are a little more vivid in their details, black humor can be borderline crude, and then there is the language. U.S. authors use more words to get their point across whereas other authors from other countries use less works and it can be like reading from a cue card.

The reason I
These are not stories. They are pitches of stories with bare sketches of characters. Here, allow me to give you a taste of her style.

There Once Lived a Girl who Dated a Married Asshole
So there's this girl, see?
She's super poor.
And she meets this guy.
He's married.
He's also an asshole, got it?
Girl gets knocked up.
Guy leaves girl.
She's sad and still super poor.
The end!

There was nothing in these tales that I even remotely related to and while I'm not surprised by that fact (seeing as I am no
I just finished this book up a few days ago. It was interesting. It's hard to describe but I loved and hated it at the same time. There are some good qualities to the book and some bad. From a literary standpoint the style of Petrushevskaya is very interesting. Each short story is so different in form. Some of the ways she wrote were very good and unique. Others I didn't like at all. I felt like a few of the stories were unfinished. From a cultural standpoint the stories were amazing. I didn't k ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
You know when you start a book titled There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories that you're not going to get happy times. And yet/but/however, Petrushevskaya manages to twist the bitter into something ... not quite sweet, but not so unpalatable.

In her introduction, translator Anna Summers provides a little context for Petrushevskaya's stories; they range from publication in 1972 to 2008, and describe a varying, changing, and changeless urban R
Sometimes you get a small glimmer of hope that someone in this book will behave humanely or kindly, and then they don't, ever. As a child raised in the heart of the cold war on Boris and Natasha in Rocky and Bullwinkle, these stories conform to the western propaganda caricature of the dreary soullessness and inhumanity of communism. The tales are pitch black, unrelentingly pessimistic, and I could not put them down. The author's work for political reasons was unpublishable until after Glasnost, ...more
Neil Latner

"Deeply unromantic love stories told frankly with dark fatalistic humour and bone- deep irony." Didn't do much for me but I do like a bit of dark humour so it gets three stars instead of two.The last story "Happy Ending"is probably the best example of the dark humour.If you like love stories that are a little bit grim and gloomy this is for you.
2.5 stars. Dozens of short stories, most about people whose lives are not going to work out no matter what they do or hope for. I'm sure they are a reflection of the author's Soviet reality, but, not only were they depressing, I never found any one or any moment to hold on to.

There is real honesty here. I had no trouble picturing the world in which these people live. And, in a few places, I was arrested by a moment of brilliance or a character I would have liked to continue reading about. But t
It's a shame that this book has as low of a rating on Goodreads as it does. These stories are well-written and intelligent; the balance between humor and dejection feels appropriate, as neither have been fixated on to the point of rendering the stories either ridiculous or maudlin; they are peopled with real and sympathetic characters living real and sympathetic (and yes, oftentimes melancholy) lives. It seems that the addition of those two little words, 'Love Stories,' in the title led to certa ...more
Nov 15, 2014 Ela rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to read good slightly different social realism

The first short story book I've read that I've actually enjoyed.

These 17 stories are all unique and work together to create an impression of how relationships develop and fail in cramped, Communist Moscow.

Some end mournfully, some with potential happiness and some with misery. However the author's unflinching narrative doesn't make the book depressing, instead it makes the positive moments even more rewarding: darkness makes you more grateful for light.

The introduction was also surprisingly enjo
i loved the bitter truths behind this book of short stories. and the foreword, especially about byt, is not to be missed. it really sets up the reader for the rest of the book. i wish there were more stories within this book. i felt like, upon completion, i could have added some of my own love stories to the cycle. i highly recommend this book to anyone who has come to the understanding that happy endings are a fallacy, you work with the hand you're dealt in life, and that pessimism and realism ...more
Sireesha Avvari
Picked it up on a whim. Very rewarding collection of stories. They are truly masterful. I always marvel at the art of telling perfect short stories.
It’s easy to love when you’re well fed and living in comfort. No, that’s not right. It’s easy to imagine you love and you’re loved if you’re well fed and living in comfort. Over the years I’ve come to redefine what love it in much the same way as Huxley got us to look again at happiness and, indeed, actual love—if, indeed, that’s what we have described in these miserable little tales—“looks pretty squalid” compared to its airbrushed counterpart in the West. I was reminded of Beckett’s novella Tr ...more
Frank Hestvik
Short, very matter-of-fact stories about the drabness of life in this grey, quotidian Russia. The language is free of frills: this happened, then that happened, and that's how it came about. But it works very well with the chilly gloominess that oozes off of every page.

Most of the stories are about tiny, cramped apartments full of bitterness; blame being passed down from generation to generation; and the fact that, yes, love is in fact dead and lies buried in a nameless grave under a dusty concr
Frank Terry
Normally I don't really read many short stories but I'm trying to read as many new authors as possible this year. I'd not heard of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya until I happened upon this E-Book while I was looking for something new to read on Amazon.

As I understand it she typically wrote with more of a supernatural or fairy tale feel but these stories are stone cold realism.

Overall they're great. Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, even though these stories are so bleak, doesn't write bleak stories. She's jus
Apr 07, 2013 Angie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: world
This set of stories is different from Petrushevskaya's last. These are set in an urban environment and they are set over the course of Petrushevskaya's life. The deep, unnerving changes to Russian society are present here, and as a reader you feel them, deeply. Many times I wasn't sure if I should be appalled at her characters' behavior, or happy that they have improved their lives.
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Ludmilla Stefanovna Petrushevskaya (Russian: Людмила Стефановна Петрушевская) (born 26 May 1938) is a Russian writer, novelist and playwright.

Her works include the novels The Time Night (1992) and The Number One, both short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize, and Immortal Love, a collection of short stories and monologues. Since the late 1980s her plays, stories and novels have been published in
More about Ludmilla Petrushevskaya...
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales The Time: Night There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In: Three Novellas About Family Through the Wall Immortal Love

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“She keeps looking up, not meeting his eyes - the sign of a serious crush, by the way.” 3 likes
“There was nothing but pain in store for her, yet she cried with happiness and couldn’t stop.” 3 likes
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