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The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  712 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Born across the street from the Kremlin in the opulent Metropol Hotel—the setting of the New York Times bestselling novel A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles—Ludmilla Petrushevskaya grew up in a family of Bolshevik intellectuals who were reduced in the wake of the Russian Revolution to waiting in bread lines. In The Girl from the Metropol Hotel, her prizewinning memoir, s ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by Penguin Books (first published 2006)
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3.36  · 
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 ·  712 ratings  ·  119 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor
Left with her grandmother while her mother went to Moscow to finish her education, a very young Ludmilla, was sent to go through neighbors garbage. Potato peels meant food, cabbage leaves maybe a soup. She and other feral children would climb in the bread man's wagon while he
Was making a delivery and lick breadcrumbs from the wagon floor. She could not attend school as she had no shoes, and in summer she ran wild, sleeping where she could. She would not have her own bed, and this a cot, until s
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars. The Girl From the Metropol Hotel was not quite what I expected, but by the end of this short memoir I came to appreciate it for what it was. Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, who was born in 1947 in the Soviet Union, recounts her life from birth up to her early 20s. She does so in the form of vignettes, focusing on different times and events in her life. What she describes is a ridiculously challenging childhood. The reasons for her difficulties are in large part due to the Soviet regime, but ...more
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
At first an autobiographical slice-of-Soviet-life nightmare, but ultimately, a triumphant odyssey of the oppressed human spirit!

This is a highly, idiosyncratically PERSONAL story - which we read as a searing reminder of the awful victimization that ALWAYS goes on, somewhere in this decaying world.

It’s about a defiantly honest little girl who refuses to be beaten.

Though she’s left totally to herself - abandoned amid the lunacy that is the wartime Stalinist machine - without her mother or her fami
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: russian-history
This is an account of Ludmilla Petrushevaskaya's personal life and experiences growing up in Stalin's Communist Russia. A slim volume of only 149 pages that is unsentimental, vivid and interesting and you cant but help admiring Ludmilla Petrushevaskaya and her feisty personality.

Born in 1938 in Moscow's Metropol Hotel, the city's most famed residential building(also called the house of Soviets because its rooms were occupied by the old Bolsheviks). Born into a family of Bolshevik intellectuals d
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya was born in Moscow in 1938. The Girl from the Metropol Hotel is a short memoir of the time after her twenty-seven-year-old mother finished university and returned to her grandparents' house after four years away to bring Ludmilla back to Moscow. Ludmilla was on the streets by then, having ‘escaped’ the poverty of her grandparents’ upbringing in Kuybyshev.

On the street in Kuybyshev, Petrushevskaya took cold-eyed account of what she could sell to earn enough money to eat.
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Impressive. So much is said in such a short book. The writing is strong, full of emotion and there is not a single wasted word.

This book is an autobiography, presented in the form of snapshots drawing important experiences in the author's life. Each "snapshot" is a short chapter. The telling moves forward chronologically. What is told of are those experiences that shaped Ludmilla. A pet, a circus performance, summer camp, a doll, as well as abodes, education (when it finally occurred), absence
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, this does explain some of those wonderful stories that Petrushevskaya writes.

Petrushevskaya's memoir is about her early years - her family's fall from grace, her birth, her life during war time. She lived as a half feral child for several years. But like in her stories, her use of language is beautiful and her comments on life searing.

"We ate glue in secret because of the rumor that it was flavored with real cherries" (22) she writes describing how scare food was, especially for her family
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
This could have been a great book, but I found it went all over the place and did not flow smoothly. Don't know if this is an effect of the translation or if it is the author's style of writing. But the events and Russian history portrayed in this little memoir were fascinating. I would love to see each of them described in more detail, and in a better writing style.
Terry Pearson
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was pleased to receive an ARC from Penguin Books in exchange for my honest review. So, without further ado...

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is the New York Times Bestselling author of There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby. "One of Russia's Best living writers", she is the author of more than fifteen volumes of prose and is also a playwright. This is her memoir.

Ludmilla was born in 1938 inside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, across the street from the Kremlin. It is the famed re
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I read this because it is on the short list for the National Book Critics Circle Award (for autobiography). I suppose I was a little disappointed in it. Her descriptions of the deprivations of living in the old Soviet Union didn't feel unusual. They are her own particular deprivations, of course, but it was a miserable time and place for most people then, especially those who were at odds with the regime. The book felt so disjointed, as though no chapter attached to any other. They seemed to be ...more
Andrea Wahle
Mar 28, 2017 rated it liked it
This felt so very disjointed. The "chapters" felt like stories she wanted to tell about her life, but they didn't seem connected to each other at all - and I usually like that style. Perhaps talking about herself in the first person in some chapters and using third person in others contributed to the feeling that they had little to do with another.
I was hoping for more about life in the Metropol Hotel itself (after reading A Gentleman in Moscow), but I did learn a lot about life in Russia durin
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What was it like to grow up in Stalin's Russia if your family was singled out for trial and execution during the infamous purges? Ludmilla Petrushevskaya looks at her life in a series of short chapters and photographs from her very first memories to the beginning of her writing career.

The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia is a collection of heart-wrenching and heart-warming stories of a childhood lived in poverty and persecution. The book consists of 32 short chapters,
Nancy Brisson
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communal Russia by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya and translated by Anna Summers in 2017 caught my attention because I had read, not long ago, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which was also set in post-revolutionary Russia in the Metropol Hotel, located in the heart of Moscow. While I enjoyed the novel by Towles, I felt that the life Alexander, once a member of the aristocracy, lived in the Metropol Hotel might be a somewhat romanticized version of ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was fascinating. Petrushevskaya turned what could be considered by some to be a nightmare of a childhood into a triumph, letting it shape her amazingly creative storytelling. She is an inspiration.

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is an award-winning writer in Russia, but this is the first piece of hers I've ever read. As a child of the 1980s, the USSR fascinated and frightened me both, and I've read lots of things pertaining to that time period and place. This was probably the most unique piece.

This isn't a true memoir; it only covers Petrushevskaya's childhood up to her early 20s, and it's really a collection of vignettes to illustrate the difficulty of her life under the Communist regime. Even t
Jan 10, 2018 added it
Shelves: 2018
If you hear someone's childhood called Dickensian, it likely stirs up all sorts of vivid images of hardship, poverty and even suffering. Certainly you would think of a colorful living circumstance, but not necessarily in the happiest sense. Ludmilla Petrushevskaya's memoir The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia (translated from the Russian by Anna Summers) verges on the Dickensian. Her childhood was every bit as difficult as that of a poor orphan in Victorian England, y ...more
Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Be expected to go down some dark and dusty paths with Ludmilla in this personal retelling of growing up in poverty during the Soviet Union where one had to learn to fight or fly to survive. Anyone growing up in similar locations in Russia as Ludmilla can attest to many of her experiences of navigating long bread lines, shared commune flats, and communist ideology of the time. She adds more depth with her stories on navigating bullies, Russian courtyards, predators, abandonment, classic literatu ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Somewhat oddly written memoir (the author refers to herself alternately in the first and third persons in different sections of the book). A horrible, scathing childhood in the Soviet Union in the 1940s. The writing style is odd and not very idiomatic. Some of the stories of this gutsy girl are fabulous and frightening. A bad time to be an enemy of the state during Smiling Joe Stalin's purges. A pretty quick read. She's a creative rebel.
3.5 Review to come...
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I really wanted to love this book, but I couldn't. I found it disjointed and a bit confusing at times. Also, I felt it ended too soon. I'd love to read about what happened in her life after she graduated, and her journey to becoming an author.
Barry Bean
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well worth a couple of hours!

A young girl comes of age in the post-war Soviet Union. As notable for the inside look at conditions in the Soviet Union as for the glimpse of a remarkable creative and individualistic young woman.
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
A prettily written but disjointed and uncentered little memoirella. (Is there a term for a short memoir, like novella? There is now). But I do love the phrase "original but arguable."
Sarah Robbins
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was an autobiographical account of a young girl growing up in postWar Russia (Soviet Union? USSR? That area...) The book was beautifully written by a popular poet which made the writing captivating with its lyrical feel, which was necessary giving the harsh environment and shocking experiences. This was a hard read, but I'm glad I was able to experience a childhood that was something so outside my own.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Fascinating insight on growing up in communist Russia, but the writing is so disjointed that there is no traceable story line. It may have read better as a bulleted article. It also goes back and forth from the first and third person narrative and kind of drove me crazy. Luckily, it’s a fast read so I didn’t suffer too long.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya grew up in a family of Bolshevik intellectuals who were quickly reduced in the wake of the Russian Revolution to waiting in bread lines, losing their home and near starvation.
In Petrushevskaya's memoir, she recounts her childhood of extreme deprivation—of wandering the streets at 6 years old without any supervision, singing for alms, and living a truly feral life. Through this, not only did she remained undaunted but triumphed to fulfill her life's dream to become a writ
Mar 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really expected to like this book, but found got within the last twenty pages and just couldn't finish it. Perhaps something got lost in the translation, because I felt so detached from the author, the main character.
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite authors and I devoured these glimpses into her childhood--clear, unsentimental, powerful--under extremely difficult circumstances. It is not a continuous narrative, but fragments, like shards of broken glass that, as pieces fit together, offer a glimpse of the author's reflection. An amazing sense of humor runs through it all that is impressive and inspiring.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was anticipating the release of this book but unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations. In retrospect, it was completely unfair to think that this would be able to compare with the fiction in A Gentleman in Moscow. Even in this disappointing read I completely fell in love with Ludmilla Petrushevskaya; I just wish she had given more of her story to me.
Mary Bronson
I picked this book up to read for non-fiction November and I thought this was a very interesting book. I have recently started reading about more on Russia. I have never heard of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya before this and I loved this memoir. I now want to read some books she wrote. It really was like this Oliver Twist type story and it was hard to read sometimes about how she grew up homeless for most of her life and when she was brought back to her mother she could not "fit in" to normal society.
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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
“I never "toured" that courtyard again. We avoid places where we've endured pain, but the opposite is true, too. Extreme kindness can be repaid only with ingratitude. What if the miracle won't repeat itself and life's greatest consolation-remembering the kindness shown to us-disappears? Those little faces won't be there, and the green sweater won't be offered. This way, they are always with me. The crown of hungry children, the dark stairs, the open door, the outstretched hand, and someone's mother, crying, her face invisible against the light.” 0 likes
“Never have I been frightened by circumstances. A little warmth, a little bread, my little ones with me, and life begins, happiness begins.” 0 likes
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