Liviu's Reviews > Sashenka

Sashenka by Simon Sebag Montefiore
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it was amazing
bookshelves: mainstream, 2008_release_read, top_25_2008_novels


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 as much as I was.

Split into 3 period pieces, 1916-17, 1939 and 1994 flashbacks after the archives are opened and the whole story can be told, the book coheres into a whole anchored by its main title character known as comrade Snowfox who attracts the admiration even of Stalin for her "Bolshevik" dedication to duty, a model both of young revolutionary repudiating her wealthy family background and new Soviet woman with kids, job, household to manage - with help of course - and rising dedicated revolutionary and NKVD torturer and killer husband -

Some people will be disappointed that the whole chain of tragic events of the book did not start from Stalin's paranoia, desire to get rid of old Bolsheviks or of Jewish ones for his coming rapprochement with Hitler, but from semi-mundane events that could happen in today's America leading maybe to a divorce or marital counseling, but in Soviet Russia they were potentially lethal not only for the principals involved, but for their children, parents, close relatives and friends.

And that is something that people who have been fortunate not to live under an evil totalitarian regime do not truly understand - how evil is banal there and pervades the smallest aspect of everyone's life and a misstep or even an accidental remark or encounter can lead to many lives wrecked and destroyed


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Reading Progress

November 23, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
December 21, 2008 – Finished Reading
December 22, 2008 – Shelved as: mainstream
December 23, 2008 – Shelved as: 2008_release_read
March 2, 2012 – Shelved as: top_25_2008_novels

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