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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (954 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Simon Montefiore Narrator: Anne Flosnik Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2008 ISBN: 9781400180073
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Montefiore is a natural storyteller who brings his encyclopedic knowledge of Russian history to life in language that glitters like the ice of St. Petersburg…Montefiore shows that the historian seeking the truth must call upon creativity as much as upon meticulous research. It must not have been a stretch for this biographer to turn novelist. Here’s hoping we get more spellbinding historical fiction from him.”

    Washington Post

  • “The tale is thick and complex, and the characters’ lives take on a palpable urgency against a wonderfully realized backdrop. Readers with an interest in Russian history will particularly delight in Sashenka’s story.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Montefiore uses his knowledge of the Soviet period to shattering effect.”

    AudioFile
  • “Montefiore’s command of Russian history makes the novel’s details especially vibrant.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diana Jackson | 2/17/2014

    " Gripping epic. The kind of book I love to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diana | 2/13/2014

    " This book was a fantastic read! It is well written and exciting to read- I could not put this book down! Would definitely recommend it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Colin | 1/23/2014

    " Despite the publisher's blurb, this is not Doctor Zhivago nor Sophie's Choice. But it is a good page turner with great historical insight. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 1/20/2014

    " Sad but worthwhile, giving insights into life during the revolution and under Stalin while uncovering a mystery. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christianne | 1/10/2014

    " addicting! so good never a dull moment! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Miranda | 1/8/2014

    " I loved the rich historical detail in this book- though I would say a background understanding of pre-revolutionary Russia and Stalinist Russia is necessary to appreciate this attention to detail. I am fascinated by this time period- and so I really liked how he created a fictional narrative out of the momentous events of revolutionary Russia. For this I am giving this novel 3 stars. However- Montefiore is (too) obviously a non-fiction writer first- and the story suffers because of this. I found the story too long and the characters were just not compelling enough to really draw me in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachael Roberts | 1/3/2014

    " Could not put this down. If you love historical fiction as I do - worth it all the way to the last page. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jade Renville | 12/22/2013

    " A fairly straightforward Russian saga. Mostly enjoyable although the depictions of the Terror were a bit hard to read at times. It makes you want to researh this era in Russian history more fully. The scenes sometimes didn't quite flow and seemed to jump a bit and it took me ages to finish. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jude Radley | 12/21/2013

    " One of the best novels I have read in a long time. It serves as a stark reminder of how precious life is and how quickly lives and fortunes can change. This novel will stay with me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine Sahlström | 12/18/2013

    " Interesting with a historically correct fiction, some slow parts in the end, which spoils the good beginning. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dianne | 11/30/2013

    " I started out thinking I wouldn't like this book, but by page 50 I was drawn in and couldn't stop. Good insight into Russia before and during early WWII. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandie | 11/26/2013

    " The beginning was good, nice but then it skipped time.. and it was just like wtf? Afterwards, I felt everything was rushed and all jumbled. Ebook pages were 1800 something, I abandoned it after 1000. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 11/9/2013

    " A really vivid historical read fantastic view of Russia with a great story. I wish Simon would write another novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan | 6/6/2013

    " Story of a rich, young girl that becomes a Bolshevik before the Russian Revolution. Her story and how and why she is executed in the Stalin era. Also, story of her children and what happens to them. Good read. I could feel the terror. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Lou | 12/24/2012

    " A fine story about the Russian Revolution, its players, the Terror under Stalin, and modern Russia. Interesting characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbilyn | 12/1/2012

    " exploring an interesting time as russia transitions to communism. wish it had more historical tie ins to reality. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ashley | 8/27/2012

    " The history was interesting, since it was also written by a historian, but the quality of story-telling was a little too loosely knit for my liking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 8/27/2012

    " Will write review later... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maddy | 3/30/2012

    " Great book, much worth the read "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rebekah | 1/31/2012

    " The first section was good, and interesting, but the second section was so freaking idyllic that waiting for the other shoe to drop got super boring. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jean | 11/16/2011

    " Historical novel covering the last days of the Tsars up to todays oligarchs. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Toni | 10/16/2011

    " i stopped reading this - which is unusual for me. it came highly recommended but i did not enjoy it - the writing style was almost teenage level. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Babak Fakhamzadeh | 7/10/2011

    " Has a few long winded moments, but too many great sections to count. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nilufer | 5/9/2011

    " Cruel, but amazing book!I can't put it down until read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karyn | 5/8/2011

    " I enjoyed this, finished a while ago though. Gives a lot of info on Russia, but it was a good story and quite heartbreaking too. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diana | 4/27/2011

    " This book was a fantastic read! It is well written and exciting to read- I could not put this book down! Would definitely recommend it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Colin | 2/21/2011

    " Despite the publisher's blurb, this is not Doctor Zhivago nor Sophie's Choice. But it is a good page turner with great historical insight. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 10/5/2010

    " i thought this book was amazing. it took me quite a long time to read, but it was worth it. the ending was strange. i'm not sure if i liked the ending or not, but it was a good read and there was a lot of historical background in it "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tasha | 9/30/2010

    " Definitely a 5 star read for me! This was a hard book to put down. I recommend this one highly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 9/22/2010

    " I enjoyed especially the third part of the book. Shivers went up and down my back when I realised that indeed everything in russian archives is written with... blood. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ashley | 8/10/2010

    " The history was interesting, since it was also written by a historian, but the quality of story-telling was a little too loosely knit for my liking. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Toni | 7/19/2010

    " i stopped reading this - which is unusual for me. it came highly recommended but i did not enjoy it - the writing style was almost teenage level. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rebekah | 6/1/2010

    " The first section was good, and interesting, but the second section was so freaking idyllic that waiting for the other shoe to drop got super boring. "

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About the Author

Simon Montefiore is an historian and the award-winning author of Jerusalem, Young Stalin, and Catherine the Great and Potemkin, among others. His books have been pyublished in forty languages, and Jerusalem was a #1 bestseller in the UK as well as President Bill Clinton’s #1 book of the year. Montefiore regularly lectures around the world on Russia, the Middle East, and other subjects such as leadership and revolution, and has written numerous articles for the New York Times. He lives in London with his wife, novelist Santa Montefiore, and their two children.

About the Narrator

Anne Flosnik, a seasoned audiobook narrator, has over four hundred titles to her credit and several awards and distinctions, including three AudioFile Earphones Awards, a USA Today Recommended Listening, and the American Library Association’s Special Services to Children Award. She has twice been an Audie Award finalist. She is an accomplished actress with lead credits on stage, on television, and in commercials and voice-overs.