This fast-paced thriller tells the story of Sashenka, the daughter of wealthy secular Jews in St. Petersburg. Rejecting her parents’ bourgeois ways and her grandparents’ religion, Sashenka seeks intrigue, adventure, and perhaps truth in the nascent Communist Party just before the Russian Revolution. But, as Montefiore illustrates with equal parts sympathy and certainty, Sashenka’s triumphs and sorrows during Stalin’s Great Terror culminate in a choice that reverberates for over a generation. Without a doubt, Montefiore’s empathetic and skilled portrayal of this wealthy Jewish girl turned Bolshevik activist brings to life the intricate and terrifying history of the Soviet Union in the 20th century.
A respected scholar of Russian history, Montefiore brings his knowledge to bear in this novel with amazing and laudatory results. Readers — both those with and those without a background in the time period and the country — will enjoy Sashenka for its fictional power and historical depth. Cast of characters, note.
Rachel Sara Rosenthal is an environmental attorney in Washington, DC. Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, she graduated from Duke University in 2003 and Columbia University School of Law in 2006.