By Simon Sebag Montefiore
(Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9781416595557, 544pp.)
Publication Date: November 17, 2009
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In the bestselling tradition of Doctor Zhivago and Sophie's Choice, a sweeping epic of Russia from the last days of the Tsars to today's age of oligarchs -- by the prizewinning author of Young Stalin.
Winter 1916: St. Petersburg, Russia, is on the brink of revolution. Outside the Smolny Institute for Noble Girls, an English governess is waiting for her young charge to be released from school. But so are the Tsar's secret police...
Beautiful and headstrong, Sashenka Zeitlin is just sixteen. As her mother parties with Rasputin and their dissolute friends, Sashenka slips into the frozen night to play her part in a dangerous game of conspiracy and seduction.
Twenty years on, Sashenka is married to a powerful, rising Red leader with whom she has two children. Around her people are disappearing, while in the secret world of the elite her own family is safe. But she's about to embark on a forbidden love affair that 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 heartbreaking tale of betrayal and redemption, savage cruelty and unexpected heroism -- and one woman forced to make an unbearable choice.
Simon Sebag Montefiore is a historian of Russia and author of Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner; Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar; and the bestselling Young Stalin, awarded the 2007 Costa Biography Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography. Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Montefiore lives in London with his wife, the novelist Santa Montefiore, and their two children.
"Furiously readable. A brilliantly plotted novel that brings home with unique intimacy the joys and hopes of Russian families, the Revolution, the horror of the thirties." -- Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's List
"A dramatic, gripping tale. Sashenka's story, set against richly textured backgrounds -- some lavish, some grim -- makes this novel extraordinarily difficult to put down." -- Robert K. Massie, author of Nicholas and Alexandra
"The world of the Russian Revolution and of Stalin's Terror comes vividly to life in this deeply intimate novel, full of Russian atmosphere and color. I felt as if I'd lived through an epic movie." -- Edward Rutherfurd, author of Sarum
"Intensely moving, with an unforgettable climax that will touch the hardest heart." -- Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans and Mao
"The perfect mixture of history and clever storytelling, with wonderful female characters and a seriousness of purpose that stands out. Gripping from start to finish." -- Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth
"He writes beautifully, vividly, and passionately." -- Fay Weldon, author of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil