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Isolde

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  23 ratings  ·  15 reviews
"No, I'm no queen," she repeated. "In fact, I'm very modern. Why do you look at me like that?"

Left to her own devices in Biarritz, fourteen-year-old Russian Liza meets an older English boy, Cromwell, on a beach. He thinks he has found a magical, romantic beauty and insists upon calling her Isolde; she is taken with his Buick and ability to pay for dinner and champagne.
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 4th 2019 by Pushkin Press (first published 1929)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell

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ISOLDE is a work of Russian literature originally released in 1929. Apparently it was quite controversial in its day, which isn't surprising, as it comes across as very progressive for its time with regard to its frankness of writing about sex and the flouting of convention, as well as a surprisingly decent portrayal of an F/F character that was unexpected.



Liza is the daughter of a vain social climber named Natalia, who makes Liza, Odette, her other daughter, and Nikolai, her son, all pretend that
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amanda
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is awful forgive me, but I wholly requested this book because of its gorgeous cover and name. Isolde is just beautiful and flows simply from the lips. I’m glad my childish love of everything pretty paid off because this was a fantastic read. Admittedly, I am in a mood right now where I will cry at the drop of a hat but this book absolutely will pull every emotion out of you with its atmospheric writing and complex characters.

Isolde is not the main characters real name. It’s Liza
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Subashini
This 1929 Russian novel is newly translated into English by Bryan Karetnyk and Irina Steinberg. A grim portrayal of the waywardness, excess, and decadence of the Russian white émigrés in Europe. Parental neglect, sexuality, and rootlessness make for an interesting book, but while I typically love gloom and doom and misery (especially among the rich and miserable), I found the writing (or translation, or both) wanting. It lacked psychological depth and acuity. The writing seemed both melodramatic ...more
Hannah
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Isolde is the first book by Russian writer Irina Odoevtseva to ever be translated and published in English. After flying through it in just two days, I am hoping that more of Odoevtseva's work will be translated soon as well. First published in 1929, Isolde caused a mixture of shock and appreciation, with the latter coming from the struggling youth of the Russian diaspora after the 1917 Revolution. I felt sorry for the young characters and their struggles with their identities in the absence of any parental ...more
Madeline
Oct 03, 2019 rated it liked it
At times a little jumbled in its telling, but an interesting and evocative look into a young girl’s life in 1930s Paris, as a Russian exile.

Liza, or as one young man calls her, Isolde, is a mystifying, naïve, lively, and passionate young girl of 14. On a beach vacation with her family, she meets a young British man, Cromwell, and what begins is just barely a love affair, and mostly a jumble of feelings felt and left behind by two young teenagers trying to figure out how to live in the world.

Li
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Anya
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Isolde or as much as you can enjoy a very dark modern re-telling of Isolde.
The writing is very suggestive and atmospheric.
Liza/Betsy/Isolde is quite Lolita-esque and naïve. She's aware of her impression to men, but otherwise it seems she has no clue what's going on or surpresses the truth ("I don't want to grow up.")
I loved her statement that nobody knows anything about each other, which in this novel is true. Lots of drama and suffering until the end.
I also enj
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Tanya
"I keep thinking how difficult and dreary life must be if childhood is as good as it gets. And if it’s all downhill from here, I don’t want to grow up.” She shook her head. “And, you know, I don’t think I ever will."
“Nonsense, Liza. It’s only because you’re fourteen." [loc. 1501]


Liza and Kolya's father, a naval officer, was drowned by his own men during the Russian Revolution. Their mother, who fled with Liza and Kolya to Paris, refuses to admit that she has children at all: they age her te
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Susie Williams
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
(thank you to the publisher for my copy of this book!)

First of all, this book is adorable and makes me want to start collecting all the books is in the Pushkin Collection. It's smaller and more compact than the average book and with a gorgeous color and design. Second of all, you'll see from the start how ahead of her time Irina Odoevtseva was in writing Isolde.

Isolde was written in 1929 and it's easy to see why it was a bit of a shock to the general public when first published. I w
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Maria Spillane
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2019
Isolde is an atmospheric novel, it centres around a young Russian emigrant Liza, who is called Isolde (after the romance Tristan & Isolde) by Cromwell, an English boy she meets on the beach in France. The entry of the wealthy Cromwell into the lives of Liza, her brother Nikolai and his friend Andrei (with whom Liza is in love) opens a world of opportunity that Nikolai is quick to exploit.

Although there are some other perspectives, we mostly see the world through Liza's eyes, and she is the
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KtotheC
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an odd book. The introduction tells of how it was considered scandalous at the original time of publication, and I can see why. A lot is left unsaid but it is quite a sad story and also quite disturbing with the lengths that the characters will go to to get what they want.

Liza is at once naive and knowing, and the depiction of her willfully ignoring what she does know but refuses to acknowledge rang true.

Not sure about the overall pacing of the book as it did lose
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Isabella
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful discovery. The story had an unpredictable plot, that captures your attention until the very end. The main character reminds a bit of Lolita, clearly well aware of the effect she has on men. The book is also a portrait of a very colorful generation. Excellent translation. I would like to read more books by this auhor, Irina Odoevtseva, SHO reminds me a bit of another Russian writer, the great Anna Achmatova.
Miriam
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Teens, parents, relationships. This book works on many levels and could even be set in the present time.
James
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Death, sexual obsession and crime among the neglected children of White Russian exiles in Jazz Age Paris; compelling melodrama.
Natasha Porter
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
A quick and relatively enjoyable read. A bit bleak though, and a bit unsatisfying at the end.
vgl3
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Atmospheric and bleak, I enjoyed ‘Isolde’ but never felt enough of a connection to any of the characters for it to have a longer-term impact on me.
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