27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A well researched historical novel - with a level of detail that brings the Russian Revolution right into your living room.,
This review is from: Sashenka (Paperback)
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.
With a few slightly unbelievable moments aside, this is an excellent story, and a vivid and emotional portrayal of life in twentieth-century Russia. Only the hardest of hearts could fail to be moved by Shashenka's story and the plight of millions of Russians during times or civil war, revolution, famine, terror and persecution, and I can wholeheartedly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys well-researched historical fiction, whatever the era. 5* from me, and some more fiction please Simon Montefiore?