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Sashenka

(Moscow Trilogy #1)

by
4.03  ·  Rating details ·  4,619 ratings  ·  483 reviews
Winter, 1916: In St Petersburg, Russia on the brink of revolution. Outside the Smolny Institute for Noble Young Ladies, an English governess is waiting for her young charge to be released from school. But so are the Tsar’s secret police… Beautiful and headstrong, Sashenka Zeitlin is just sixteen. As her mother parties with Rasputin and her dissolute friends, Sashenka slips ...more
Hardcover, 522 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2008)
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Jackie L It's historical fiction. The story of Shashenka is fiction, but the setting of the book, and characters in the book are historic. There are real chara…moreIt's historical fiction. The story of Shashenka is fiction, but the setting of the book, and characters in the book are historic. There are real characters in the novel. I read this as an e-book, and there is a reference in the back listing all of the characters, and it marks the real, historic characters, among them, Rasputin, Stalin, Prince Andronnikov, Boris Sturmer, Lenin, to name just a few. The revolution, rise of the communists, the Terror, etc., all of these events are real. The author spent years researching Russian history, and archives. The fictional characters are based on real life stories told to him during his research and what he found in the archives.(less)

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Jeanette (Again)
This is an outstanding work from a serious scholar of Russian history. I'll be interested to try one of his nonfiction books. The author's knowledge of period details, mindsets, and customs really makes this novel stand out. There are so many fascinating little extras.
My summaries of the sections are deliberately vague, as I think it's essential to be in the dark about where the story is going for best enjoyment. All three of the parts are very nicely tied in with each other by the end of the no
...more
Kate Furnivall
The background research is impressive but to me Sashenka herself feels like a man's creation of a woman - not totally convincing.
C.W.
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've always been obsessed with Russian history, in particular the events leading to the 1917 revolution that murdered the Tsar, his family, as well as countless others, setting the stage for Stalin and decades of untold horrors, which remained shrouded in secrecy and encoded dossiers until the collapse of the USSR.

In Simon Montefiore's sweeping novel, SASHENKA, we get an all-encompassing view of these pivotal, blood-soaked events through the eyes of the titular character - a wealthy Jewish girl
...more
Alice Poon
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
After Doctor Zhivago, this is the second novel I’ve read about 20th century Russia. It is an entertaining and gripping story with many dramatic twists in the plot (some leaning on overdramatic). The novel has all the trimmings of a satisfactory historical novel like rich descriptions of Russian cities and countryside, settings and characters, blending fictional with real.

The plot line follows the life of a fictional female protagonist named Sashenka, from around the time of the 1917 Russian Revo
...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I am setting this one aside 30-odd pages in for two main reasons:

1) Pacing within scenes seems off and characters not quite believable.

2) Holy male gaze, Batman! Literally the first thing we learn about the (16-year-old) protagonist is her breast size. They are, in case you wanted to know (I didn't), "the fullest breasts in her class." As we are told from her own POV. Meanwhile her governess is off ogling the headmistress, or so I presume by the fact that when the author writes from said governe
...more
Gretchen
Aug 07, 2014 rated it liked it
If not for part three of this novel, this would have been a 1.5 star read. I don't want to give too much away (even using spoilers). Part three involves a young girl named Katinka who is hired by a woman to track down her biological parents who gave up their children in the days before Russia would officially enter into WWII. This plot would have been enough for an entire novel by itself. However, before the reader can get to the good stuff, they have to endure parts one and two. Part one descri ...more
Miki Garrison
Mar 29, 2010 rated it liked it
I ordered this book really looking forward to it. After all, it had a lot going for it that promised a good read -- Russian history, a young adult diving into political conspiracy, love stories, etc. Reading the cover flap had me all excited.

Reading the actual book, though, was a let down. The beginning of the book jumps every few pages to a different set of characters, almost all dialogue with very little description or action, not spending enough time with any of characters for me to really f
...more
Imogen
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book!
Only recently have I become interested in modern history, and more specifically the Russian Revolution, and this book definitely helped to deepen my interest.
'Sashenka' is very well researched, and is the author's first novel as Montefiore normally writes historical books. This was a GREAT debut! The latter part of the book, though not AS enjoyable as the first two parts is still fantastic and provides a look into post-Stalinist Russia. It is set in a different decade from the
...more
Wintergal
Nov 10, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's totally unconvincing for a native Russian-speaker, ridiculous in parts. The book is so full of discrepansies and silly details the author got simply wrong! I was astounded to read in the Acknowledgements that he thanked his teacher of Russian who read the text for mistakes. Well, she did a poor job of it.
For all those readers who are interested in this period of Soviet history - revolution, stalin repressions, concentration camps, I would suggerst to read a truly amazing memoir of a surviva
...more
Liviu

I browsed several times this book - since I read the author's two well received books on Stalin - but until an online review captured my attention I did not think that I would read it since this is a book that combines superb characters, writing and period detail with some truly cheesy writing and passages that drone on, so a quick browse and even the short online excerpts available do not do it justice.

After finishing it I have to say that I truly did not expect to enjoy it and be moved by it
...more
Jelena Milenković
Stopped reading after less than hundred pages, I just have a lot of it going on right now and this book really demands attention and time. I guess I’m gonna finish it next year.

update: I finished it this year! *woop woop*

This book gave me serious nightmares because I connected with Saschenka in part 2 and her suffering.
But that doesn't change the fact that I had difficulties with part 1 and 3, I had to skim through pages in order to finish it.
Even in part 2 it was hard to read about everything
...more
Marvin
Aug 13, 2009 rated it liked it
My freshmen year of college, after my first semester, I took a "Winter Term" one-month, concentrated course titled "The Russian Revolution through Literature" with 4 bright, upper-class history majors (I was not a history major). It was one of the best courses I ever took. We read Pasternak, Sholokov, and others and talked & wrote about them. Montefiore, primarily a historian who has written nonfiction works about the Stalinist era in Russian history, has clearly read those novels, too, with the ...more
Gabriela
Dec 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-shelf-en
I really couldn't put this book down. A delicate yet to the point style, at times filled with candid loving descriptions of a perfect family, then horrific telling with the most intricate and open details of terrors. It was a touching story, I was taken aback by the atrocities in the years of Terror in URSS. It really touched a sensitive cord and I plan to read more on the Stalin's Russia and the totalitarian system. So many lives broken apart, torn to pieces, changed forever.

The only thing tha
...more
Hermien
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, russia
The first part was a bit light weight, but the second part makes up for that in tension. The third part rounds it off nicely and overall it was a very enjoyable and informative lesson in Russian history.
Toni
Jul 19, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i stopped reading this - which is unusual for me. it came highly recommended but i did not enjoy it - the writing style was almost teenage level.
Kristina
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This would have been a five-star book for me, except the third act jumps into the near-present and becomes a sloppy mystery novel. There is a twist at the end which you can see coming a mile off and will probably make you want to scream. I also had some gripes with the characterisation of the children (they are teeth-grittingly annoying).

HOWEVER, the first two thirds of the book are detailed, tense and (mostly) brilliant. The followup novel "One Night in Winter" is technically stronger and relie
...more
Emma
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has gone on to my all time favourite lists. I cried I laughed I loved all through this book. I studied the history of Russia for A Level's two years ago now. From the Tsarist regime to the eventual rise and fall of Stalin. This book made everything I learnt from the Bolshevik uprising to the reign of Stalin and the Purges/Great Terror feel so much more real. Granted we learnt of these things and there was historic accounts of it, but this ficitonal piece of writing, although not a true ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Feb 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tara by: Irene
This is novel about revolution, espionage, and sex. Sashenka is a very young, impressionable teenager in the beginning who gets involved in the revolution (NOT on the governments side.) Her parents are rich, spoiled people. Her mother is a drug and sex addict (Oops. We are supposed to say hyper sexual disorder now! LOL) and while her mother is attending orgies, Sashenka's father is doing the nanny. Sashenka uses her womanly wiles to lure a government offical into giving her information and he ru ...more
Fuschia
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: michael
Recommended to Fuschia by: author's other books
One of those books you keep thinking about for days after finishing. Heartbreaking and historically interesting. Once the action got moving in book 2 and 3 I couldn't put it down. Twists and turns galore.
Carol
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The third part of Sashenka's story, clears up much of the mystery of what happened to her and her children after 'disappearing' in Stalin's Russia. Young historical researcher Katina is invited in 1994, to find out the family background of Roza, living with her ageing oligarch husband in London. Montefiore is an academic, so his fiction is credible; and this story is all the more intriguing and shocking, for that reason. We read transcripts of 'confessions' and 'trials' from Stalin's archives an ...more
Barbara
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Sort of Anna Karenina meets modern post-Soviet modernism all wrapped up in one sweeping story. Well written and very interesting as it virtually encompasses everything from pre Russian Revolution to the embracing of communism and the rise of Lenin and Stalin to the 1990's and the consequences of the times and troubles faced by the country. Interesting to see the parallels in our heroine's story and the country. Very well written! Fans of Russian history and historical fiction will enjo ...more
Brenda
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Historically interesting depiction of a terrible brutal time in Russia. Some characters (Sashenka's mother, lover)were less convincing than others but this is a compelling read. Just a few chapters in, it was apparent that horrendous things were about to happen to Sashenka's family, but I was hooked by then and couln't put the book down.
Rachel
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Sashenka is not someone I'd like as a friend, but is a type of person I recognise, regardless of the time and place. The book took me from not finding her very interesting to very quickly becoming totally absorbed in her journey (I've noticed this in the author's other books). We follow the twists and turns of her life, through opportunities to survive in an incredibly dangerous, violent and hostile world, and we can spot the moments of decision which take her down one path rather than another. ...more
Leigh Van gilst
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent story of Stalinist Russia. Montefiore does a great job of representing the culture, emotions, and determination of the times. A little slow at first, then OMG!
Matthew
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
More historians need to write historical fiction. He clearly wove information from his nonfiction books throughout and set it in 3 fascinating periods of Russian history.
Abi Olvera
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to this book, I really see why people would be so interested in the early Soviet history. This was an incredible novel that really helps you feel the magnitude of the events that took place. The Soviet empire was more than a government, it was an ideal, it was method of organizing every day life and even familial connections, which ideally were second to the mother state. I admired the heroes in this story for their selflessness and courage in the face of the giant Soviet personalities. T ...more
Helen Carolan
A re-read of this one and I have to admit it's not grabbing me this time. I'm finding it just a little bit twee.
Peter
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“Sashenka” is Simon Sebag Montefiore’s first novel (2008). An excellent historical fiction, it draws on his historical nonfiction on Soviet Russia, and might be seen as a prequel to his One Night in Winter (2013, see review)—a number of characters are common to both (Hercules Satinov, Benya Golden, and Pushkin’s novel-in-verse “Eugene Onegin”). Both are well worth the time for the fine writing and historical insights, but my preference is for Sashenka—the more sweeping and powerful of the two. I ...more
Carol
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Part One of Montefiore's Moscow trilogy is set in 1916. A fictionalised account of The Russian Revolution, is completely credible, given the writer's knowledge and use of real events, people and places. Sashenka is a 16 year old aristocrat born to lead a privileged life of pleasure and glamour. But she is wilful and driven by her Uncle Mendel to become an active Bolshevik. Arrested early on and imprisoned in the infamous Trubetskoy Bastion prison, she is undaunted by the Tsar's secret police. An ...more
J.A.
Sep 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Simon Montefiore, the author who gave us Young Stalin, now gives us a fictional female revolutionary, Sashenka. Sashenka is perfectly positioned in history - the teenage daughter of a Jewish oil baron in Petrograd, she joins the Bolshevik party prior to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. After the October Revolution she takes dictation from Lenin, marries a party stalwart, and hosts a May Day party at their dacha attended by Stalin and Beria. Sashenka leads an exemplary proletarian life, editin ...more
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Entertaining, but shallow and nothing new 1 28 Dec 26, 2013 05:13PM  
is fiction more powerful than fact? 2 36 Mar 07, 2013 10:57AM  

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Simon Sebag Montefiore is the author of the global bestsellers 'The Romanovs' and 'Jerusalem: the Biography,' 'Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar' and Young Stalin and the novels Sashenka and One Night in Winter and "Red Sky at Noon." His books are published in 48 languages and are worldwide bestsellers. He has won prizes in both non-fiction and fiction. He read history at Gonville and Caius Colleg ...more

Other books in the series

Moscow Trilogy (3 books)
  • Red Sky at Noon (Moscow Trilogy #2)
  • One Night in Winter (Moscow Trilogy #3)

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