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Sashenka Paperback – 12 Mar 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

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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: 12.7 x 3.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
I disagree with the reviewer who didn't like this novel!

I read a lot of straight history, and what I like most about this book is the way the history is melded into the page-turning story. How can one fail to be moved by Sashenka's plight when she falls in love, and then has to choose between her own life and her children? I think this book will appeal to men and women, young and old, and also to children at school who are studying 20th century history. Sure it simplifies some of the historical issues, and yes there are some coincidences, but this story swept me up so that I felt I too was in revolutionary Russia and Stalin's Moscow. It showed me what it would have been like to live in that time and under those terrible pressures when all around you your friends were disappearing. Surely this is what the reading experience is all about? I unreservedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
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