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

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  1,097 Ratings  ·  208 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 (first published 2013)
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Feb 06, 2013 karen marked it as ceci-n-est-ce-pas-un-compte-rendu
seriously, penguin?? you deny me the netgalley??


did you think i was jason?? because i am not!! this is a great injustice!!!!
Nov 13, 2015 Rossy rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 75%.
The title sounded so promising, but the stories were tedious, most of them, uninteresting, and the endings felt rushed or incomplete even for short stories.
Feb 10, 2013 Kathleen rated it really liked it
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
Ashley Olson
Feb 04, 2013 Ashley Olson rated it it was ok
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
Apr 25, 2016 Mel marked it as not-for-me
I know I hate short stories so why do I still try to read them? This wasn't for me at all.
B.R. Sanders
Petrushevskaya's stories are not diverse on the surface. It's not explicit, but I read most of the characters as white. The stories--love stories, the cover claims--appeared to be hetero in nature.

The bulk of these love stories are focused on women, and what is remarkable about these stories is the great breadth of Russian femininity* that Petrushevskaya tracks through her stories. The stories are pulled from the full spread of her writing career, and across them we have old h
Jan 04, 2013 Daisy rated it really liked it
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
Jan 13, 2016 Sistermagpie rated it it was amazing
It's so hard to describe a story by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya--I'd read one of her books before so I knew what to expect. I just love her. She writes about lives that one might call depressing, but there's just...something there. She just has, for me, this very clear pov that I'm not sure I understand, but I like. It's a bit like listening to an imaginative child tell a story where they say bizarre things but they clearly have poetic meaning? This is not to say the stories are childish or childlik ...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
Mar 31, 2013 Matt rated it liked it
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
Feb 02, 2013 Mary rated it did not like it
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 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
Tejas Janet
Nov 29, 2014 Tejas Janet rated it really liked it
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.

Airiz C
Jan 03, 2016 Airiz C rated it liked it
Short stories possess a kind of magic that novels sometimes do not have. The worlds in them seem smaller because of their length, but I came to realize that this is nothing but a hypercritical verdict: the worlds in them are in truth so much bigger, as there is a plethora of possibilities hanging at the ledge of every tale’s abrupt end. The readers often get to be the mind-pilots when they reach the said ledge, imagining what would happen past the borders. These tales are like tiny pieces of a u ...more
Aj Sterkel
Nov 29, 2016 Aj Sterkel rated it it was ok
This review is for the English translation of a Russian short story collection.

The title and synopsis sound so promising! The book wasn’t for me, though.

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s characters are looking for love in desperate places. They live in extreme poverty or in overcrowded communal apartments. They work in dead-end jobs or are mentally unbalanced. Many of them have given up hope. Their love affairs are bizarre, unrequited, awkward, dangerous. Despite the flashes of humor, most of the stori
The Lit Bitch
Jan 14, 2013 The Lit Bitch rated it really liked it
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
Gisele Walko
Jul 29, 2016 Gisele Walko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good!
Jun 17, 2017 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely collection of dark-edged love stories- very few of which are happy.
Because its repetitive, obnoxiously depressing and the story endings aren't satisfactory.
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
Feb 01, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2017 Giulia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this collection of short stories but Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. I bumped into this book accidentally and, like most, was attracted to what the peculiar title promised. Unfortunately it doesn't quite deliver on that, as the title story is actually one of the shortest and the circumstances on how the girl seduces her sister's husband and then he hangs himself are not developed much. Nevertheless, the stories are well narrated and I enjoyed reading these bittersweet tales of lives in S ...more
Feb 24, 2013 Cheryl rated it it was ok
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
To say that this collection is weird would be such an understatement... From start to finish, Petrushevskaya (and clearly translator/editor Anna Summers along with her, what with that title and that subtitle - love stories, oh yeah...) is tweaking expectations and assumptions, going deep into melancholy and grimness and a general dank... blegh. That's what the collection feels like, honestly: a print version of a gray-tinged "bleurgh".

That's not to say these aren't interesting and tickling stori
Billy O'Callaghan
Aug 28, 2015 Billy O'Callaghan rated it really liked it
Shelves: around-the-world
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 '
Mar 21, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
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
Mar 13, 2013 Chandler rated it liked it
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
Mar 05, 2013 Jennie rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
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
Feb 23, 2013 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
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
Jan 25, 2014 Ash rated it really liked it
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
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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...

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“There was nothing but pain in store for her, yet she cried with happiness and couldn’t stop.” 7 likes
“She keeps looking up, not meeting his eyes - the sign of a serious crush, by the way.” 4 likes
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