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Sashenka

Narrated by: Tuppence Middleton
Series: The Moscow Trilogy, Book 1
Length: 19 hrs and 36 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (69 ratings)

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Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Sashenka by Simon Sebag Montefiore, read by Tuppence Middleton.

Winter, 1916: in St Petersburg, Russia, on the brink of revolution. Outside the Smolny Institute for Noble Young Ladies, 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 16. As her mother parties with Rasputin and her dissolute friends, Sashenka slips into the frozen night to play her part in a dangerous game of conspiracy and seduction.

Twenty years on, Sashenka has a powerful husband with whom she has two children. Around her, people are disappearing, but her own family is safe. But she's about to embark on a forbidden love affair which 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 passion and betrayal, savage cruelty and unexpected heroism - and one woman forced to make an unbearable choice.

©2017 Simon Sebag Montefiore (P)2017 Random House Audiobooks

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A true gem

A simply phenomenal book where the story and performance powerfully transport the listener to another world that feels at once distant yet disturbingly real.

2 people found this helpful

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excellent

I loved it. I didn't want it to end. it is another excellent read from Simon

1 person found this helpful

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Superb

Beautifully written and presented, Tuppence Middleton provides a superb delivery to the ongoing world of Stalin and the various intrigues and stories that SImon Sebag Montefiore has written, be sure to read the others in this compilation.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Gloomy and exceedingly l o n g - well researched Russian history saga.

I honestly thought this saga would never end but I stuck with it.

Russian history is so complex and so complicated and so rich and so sad and this well researched book explains and explores many aspects of Russia"s tragic history beautifully. I didn't find it an easy story to stay with but that's okay. It challenged me. It's probably a masterpiece in the vein of Dr Zhivago or War and peace. And I appreciate the skilled writing and its reach because it is an epic tale, well told.

Did I enjoy it? Not entirely. Here and there I was moved, mostly I was appalled and I didn't fall in love with Sashenka as I think I was supposed to do. Here and there I gasped, Shocked. Such madness and paranoia. and I did want to find out what befell Sashenka and what happened to Snowy and Carlo. I think the story will stay with me for a long time.and I learned a lot about Russia and Stalin and history and propaganda and perhaps a little more about Russian psyche. Obviously It Is no easy undertaking to write a book like this and I can't fault anything about the gifted and clever writing and what must have been years of research. But I didn't warm to the persona of Sashenka or the main characters and the end was like a glass of cold water thrown in my face. I d say if you have any interest in Russian history and are up for a long saga cleverly put together and well written and researched and don't mind a challenging read ... Or listen .... Go for it. It's one I didn't altogether love but won't forget or regret listening to either .

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Hit & miss

At times I loved this book and at others I found it boring! A strange experience!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great Historical journey

The story of Sashenka is compelling - well written but wordy and over descriptive at times but one cannot fault the way the story - based on true facts of the time - rattles along. I found myself listening to the book at every available moment and felt as though I had lost a group of friends when I finished it. It has broadened my understanding of Russia since the 1920's, a Russian friend who read the book at the same time as I was listening to it, was very complementary about the factuality of the book. My only slight grumble would be that I found the reader a bit twee and her voice irritated me - however all in all I would recommend this as a very good listen.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Ridiculous reading

The reader embarked on a ridiculous attempt to portray a supposedly Russian accent, which turned out to be standup-comedian-like. Next time I hope the book will be read with less stereotypes and silly condescendence to the Russian culture that Montefiore attempts to portray.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Painful

What made the experience of listening to Sashenka the most enjoyable?

It's a great, sweeping story, wonderful characters, epic feel.

What didn’t you like about Tuppence Middleton’s performance?

She has a really lovely voice but she mispronounced every single Russian word in the book including the protagonist's NAME. Every line had an agonising mispronunciation in it (and there were quite a few English ones she misread too). She did appalling Russian accents for everyone, making terrifying scenes simply ludicrous. It was embarrassing to listen.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An engrossing story, but...

The story is fun and, set amidst the turmoil of twentieth century Russian history, thoroughly engrossing. The writing, however, is surprisingly bad - gushing, over-eager, sentimental, repetitive and weighted down with too much incidental description.

Tuppence Middleton reads well enough, but her (or her director's) decision to give everyone ridiculous accents was a huge mistake - particularly as she can't do a passable Russian accent (they just sound generically foreign in a weird unspecific way - often more African than European). Added to that, her mispronunciations are constant and mystifying - clearly no one has explained that Russian words and names have already been roughly transliterated and need no further mangling; and she mispronounces the eponymous heroine's name throughout as sa-SHEN-ka, rather than SA-shenka... beyond that, there are countless mispronunciations of English and French words. Even quite common words and the names of well-known people and places - ti-BILLY-see for Tblisi or cor-CUSS-us for Caucasus. As if she hadn't been paying attention at school... Surely the producers of these audio books should make sure that these basic errors are avoided - in this case, use someone who knows something about Russia (or pronouncing English words...). This does seem to be quite a common problem in audio books...

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Historically interesting

The historical detail is very interesting and resonates with what I have read elsewhere so it is well researched. There are two jumps in time and I found them both irritating as history was just about to get to the 'good bit'. Some of the descriptive passages ruin the flow of the story especially when things are getting tense. The central event that so much of the outcome depends upon is totally out of character and they would be bizarrely naive to think that in those times and their circumstances they would get away with it, at so many levels it just didn't seem rational. The final third of the story seemed too far fetched and several of the main tenets of earlier seemed to have been thrown out of the window. The narration was OK but she uses very unusual pronunciations for some words which is quite jarring and ruins the flow. I wouldn't race to get another from either the author or the narrator.