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Sashenka [Paperback]

Simon Sebag Montefiore
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

12 Mar 2009

Winter, 1916. In St Petersburg, snow is falling in a country on the brink of revolution. Beautiful and headstrong, Sashenka Zeitlin is just sixteen. As her mother parties with Rasputin and her dissolute friends, Sashenka slips into the frozen night to play her role in a dangerous game of conspiracy and seduction.

Twenty years on, Sashenka has a powerful husband and two children. Around her people are disappearing but her own family is safe.But she's about to embark on a forbidden love affair which will have devastating consequences.

Sashenka's story lies hidden for half a century, until a young historian goes deep into Stalin's private archives and uncovers a heart-breaking story of passion and betrayal, savage cruelty and unexpected heroism - and one woman forced to make an unbearable choice ...

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Sashenka + One Night in Winter + Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi (12 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552154571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552154574
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Sebag Montefiore is a novelist and historian whose prizewinning books are international bestsellers, published in over 40 languages. Catherine the Great & Potemkin was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper, and Marsh Biography Prizes. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar won the History Book of the Year Prize at the British Book Awards. Young Stalin won the Costa Biography Award (UK), the LA Times Book Prize for Biography (US), Le Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique (France) and the Kreisky Prize for Political Literature (Austria). Jerusalem: The Biography won Jewish Book of the Year Prize in the USA and was Sunday Times number one non-fiction bestseller in Britain. Titans of History was published in 2012. He is the author of the acclaimed novels, Sashenka and One Night in Winter. His next history, The Romanovs: Rise+Fall 1613-1917, will be published in 2016.
He read history at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University where he received his Doctorate of Philosophy. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham, Dr Montefiore is the presenter of 3 tv series Jerusalem (2011); Rome (2012) and now the new series on Istanbul/Constantinople/Byzantium...

Contact the author or follow him on Twitter: @simonmontefiore. For more information see:

Product Description


"Gripping from start to finish. The perfect mixture of sweeping history and page-turning storytelling"

"Intensely moving, with an unforgettable climax that will touch the hardest heart"

"Furiously readable - it's hard to put Sashenka down. The glory and tragedy of her story remains long after the last page is turned"

"Intricate, fast moving... by the time I put the book down, long after midnight, I was in tears" (THE TIMES)

"To write a good historical novel you have to recreate that world, both physically and intellectually - and there must be a sense that history is driving the plot forwards. Montefiore succeeds on all counts... The real achievement of this novel is that it describes the profound levels of self-deception required if you wanted to stay alive and be a loyal communist in Stalin's Russia" (EVENING STANDARD)

Book Description

In the bestselling tradition of Dr Zhivago and Sophie's Choice an epic story of revolution, passion and betrayal - and one woman whose extraordinary secret lies uncovered for half a century.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a story! 6 July 2009
An epic saga of life from beginning to end of 20th century Russia, it left me totally exhausted!
Sashenka is such an amazing book, full of riches both emotionally and historically. Montefiore tells an incredibly detailed, sometimes beautiful, sometimes utterly tragic story of a series of women linked by the formidable Sashenka. I loved the way the many personal stories wove in and out of each other, the plot was superb. I lived and breathed with the characters losing all sense of time and space as I read on to see how the many twists and turns of history would affect the spirited heroine and her colourful family.The book truly made me realise just how much the Russian people experienced in the 20th century, Russia has seen such incredible changes!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 10 Oct 2010
Having read both 'Young Stalin' and 'The Court of the Red Tsar' and found them very readable, I bought this about a year ago and it sat on my shelf for all that time as the blurb didn't really sell it. However, it is an absolutely gripping read. You do really find yourself caring about the characters and their fate but, more than that, it provides a fascinating insight into how easily one could slip from favour in Stalinist Russia: just one careless act can set off an horrific chain of events. I really felt the emotions the characters were going through and the 'Terror' they must have felt: something, of course, many thousands of real people went through. A highly recommended read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED THIS BOOK 25 Aug 2010

Unputdowable, well researched, on the edge of your seat stuff and if that's not enough, it can also make you cry! I picked it up in a charity shop for 60p!! What a bargain.
Don't miss this one - it will be amongst my books that I keep to re-read again and again.
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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic 3 July 2008
By Dr. Robert A. Josey VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I didn't know quite how to approach this novel. I have read both of Montefiore's studies of Stalin, young and old. They are both extremely disturbing books - but full of telling historical incident, twisted plotting which just couldn't be made up, and an eye for the intimate detail.

Montefiore, the historical fiction writer, employs those strengths in creating an exceptionally powerful saga. I really felt drawn into the story and began to get quite emotionally involved about a third of the way through the book. The writing is vivid, well paced and evocative. (There are also knowing echoes of Tolstoy and Pasternak in there.)

But, above all, I was totally, unashamedly gripped by the 'what is going to happen next?' syndrome. The characters became people I really cared about - and the ending..? It is everything the reviewers said. A real hammer blow to the heart.

'Sashenka' is an excellent 'literary historical novel'. It is passionate, complex, incisive, salutary and utterly bloody upsetting. One of those classic books that people will want to read again - I certainly will - when I recover from it - and enthuse others to read.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Told Melodrama 7 Mar 2010
If you generally enjoy well told but non-too-serious melodrama which invents sensual characters who converse personally with everyone from Rasputin to Lenin and Stalin, you might enjoy this. The tale is competently told, without ever digging too deeply into the political and social complexities of the period. The sexual content hovers uncertainly between the salacious and attempts to give thinly-drawn characters warmth and depth. Long, at over 600 pages, but easy to read and unchallenging text.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Sashenka - where to start? - she begins in the story as an idealistic, intelligent educated young woman. At the age of sixteen she is in that transitory period between a child's world and an adult's world. Her parents and beloved English nanny see her very much as inhabiting the former, but Shashenka has by this time already been in rebellion against the materialistic world of her parents and peers at school, and has been inhabiting a darker and more idealistic world. Already at odds with the riches, indulgences and frivolities of upper class society, Shashenka has been recruited by her Uncle Mendel into an idealistic underworld of socialism, and the Communist Party. Party numbers are low in St. Petersburg in 1916 and Shashenka "Comrade Snowfox" has an important part to play in running messages, arms, ammunition and information. A brief run in with the law leads her down some darker alleys, and trying to play a game of double-deceit she ends up in a series of flirtatious meetings with a Tsarist Gendarme officer, Captin Sagan. The story continues as Russia escalates into revolution.

In turn spanning three generations, there's a lot of history to take in with the plot. We have Shashenka at sixteen at the beginning; Shashenka and her family 20 years later, still in turbulent times of communist Russia and under constant threat of persecution for being of aristocratic background; and then the story of a young Russian history graduate in 1994 becoming entangled in the story of Shashenka and her husband and children, in attempt to find out what became of them and whether they might be related to a family history search she has become embroiled in.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I found some passages rather cold but SSM is a historian so he deftly handled his propensity for historical data. Read more
Published 4 days ago by L. J. Hardy
2.0 out of 5 stars cracked russian doll
Boring pastiche of Pasternak and Ken Follet . Despite the author's background in research on the period it comes across as phoney. Read more
Published 5 days ago by John Coffey
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story
I loved this book so much I didn't want to finish it! Having been to St Petersburg I could picture the streets that are mentioned and imagine the way of life in times past. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Gillian Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent story.
I ordered the book for my Kindle so that I could easily read it when I was away from home. It's a wonderful story about a Russian lady called Sashenka who was born in about 1900. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Peter C
5.0 out of 5 stars A hundred years of Russian history
Both wide ranging and detailed, political, historical and personal it shows how Russian and Soviet society lurched from one extreme to the other.
Published 1 month ago by Lilias
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This was an excellent book. Very well written and such a good read. I highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys historical novels.
Published 1 month ago by Jacqueline Moreau
5.0 out of 5 stars Sashenka - Simon Sebag Montefiore
An exciting and chilling treatise on Soviet life. The characters were beautifully written and descriptions of Russia in turn lyrical and frightening. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. Philippa Hogan
5.0 out of 5 stars With gratitude
I have read several books on 20th century Russia and have Russian Christian Orthodox friends.
Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago;Montefiore's, The Young Stalin and The Court of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Carole Leret
1.0 out of 5 stars Oops
My mistake didn't realise it was the French version. Ordered using my phone and didn't take any notice of the language. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kim Powell
4.0 out of 5 stars Sashenka
I loved this book, it is well written and the author obviously knows the history of the country. The different times were a little confusing at first but once you get used to this... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. S. Mackenzie Smith
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