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Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing but strangely detached, 20 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag (Hardcover)
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This is an intriguing book and an at times fascinating glimpse behind the Soviet iron curtain and the often arbitary terrors of the gulag are charted here with clever precision.

That has of course a lot to do with Orlando Figes skills as a writer- I often think he could make a recipe for rice pudding sound interesting- but that skill is also what carries off a book that is still decidedly lumpy. To be honest I really couldn't develop any empathy for, or deep understanding of the two central characters and it pains me to say it, but these may be some of the most mundane love letters I've ever read.

So if you are a student of the soviet system and fascinated by the gulags and the socio-political contradictions of a communist ideal twisted into the horrors of Stalinism, then this is a good charting of all that. An emotive love story however, it is not, and to my mind this book is too heavy on the letter extracts, which at the end to my shame I ended up skim reading and then at times simply skipping. I would rather have had more Figes and less 'ramblings' and so the book should have, by rights, have been about half the length. Then, perhaps, it would have packed a bit more of an emotive punch.
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