The book is divided into 2 major sections - Svetlana's childhood, youth, and early married life and then her brave flight from Russia to live in the US. I started with the second section which describes Svetlana's escape from her Russian minders in India when she approached the US embassy in India for refugee status and then started her new life in America. The book ends with Svetlana's death and her American daughter strewing Svetlana's ashes in the ocean. Sullivan uses interviews, personal letters, and media articles to write this section. She provides a disturbing picture of the Americans who used Svetlana for their own gains as opposed to those who tried to always help her with advice, accommodation, affection, and handouts. I was mystified in how easily Svetlana moved around the Eastern States and disturbed about her lack of money. I was most curious about her return to live in Russia for 3 years with her American teen in tow. I was most moved about the description of Svetlana's poor living conditions in England for a number of years. I was very interested to see how her American daughter turned out. I then returned to the first section of the book to read about Svetlana's childhood, youth, and adulthood in Russia. Sullivan relies heavily on Svetlana's memoir, "Twenty Letters to a Friend" to write about that time period in Svetlana's life. The book has a family tree for both of Svetlana's parents - most helpful in identifying who is who throughout the book. The author's explanations in the Notes section at the back of the book are most interesting to read and the lengthy bibliography made we wish for access to some of that material. The author's writing style makes the book an easy, enlightening read - finished the book in no time even though it was lengthy.
The first 2/3rds of the book were repetitive and the character development was shallow. The last third was well done, picked up the pace and Daughter became more reflective of her decisions and seemed to take more responsibility for consequences of these decisions. Overall an interesting biography but, perhaps because the young Svetlana really was an indulged "princess" I found it a bit of a slog to read.
this is a (true) weird story i was not aware of. i knew of stalin the psychopath - and this book touches on that - but i think that is the main story and might be better thing to read about. poor svetlana - defected back and forth from ussr, to usa to ussr to usa. really. so you know what you are dealing with. worth reading for those interested in fairly recent ussr/usa history.
I loved this book right from the beginning. It's well researched and very readable. It may look long but the details of her life make it well worth it. It is a poor little rich girl story but her privileged upbringing left her ill prepared for life, and emotionally damaged to boot.
Very interesting, informative and well researched. Don't be put off by the 700+ pages. It's actually an easy read; the last 100 pages are references and an index.
Because of the way she led her life, the book also includes the many people who came and went from her life. It can be a bit dizzying to keep track of everyone. But there is a list of main characters near the end of the book.
I couldn't put the book down. She lived a head spinning life in trying to disassociate herself from her father and the Soviet era, and try to create a life of her own. But her own weaknesses kept her living her entire life on the edge - in "search for love in the heart of so much darkness".
Exhaustively researched, this is the life of Stalin's only daughter, who lived through her father's reign of terror and oppression, then defected to the West. Sadly her life in the West was freer but not much happier than her life in the Soviet Union. Svetlana Alliluyeva emerges as a tempestuous, intelligent, troubled woman who careened from lover to lover and place to place, seeking happiness and security but finding neither.
Well researched, long story telling the life of Svetlana.....was aware of some of her history, but this gave me the whole story, and with many surprises. She often portrayed herself as someone who really did not know what she really wanted. Many sad episodes in her life. Made wrong choices in men!! Recommend, and stick with it.
Sad but interesting book. Cannot imagine what it would be like to be the daughter of a man like that. She was a difficult but interesting person who tried hard to make her own mark in life.
As Antennas Sileika said on CBC's The Next Chapter, "What a train wreck of a life!" I found Svetlana's impulsive grand gestures sometimes endearing and sometimes I lost patience. Her life was not ordinary and her main wish was apparently a simple one: to be loved.
This is a fantastic read! I felt that I really got to know Svetlana, or Lana as she called herself in later life. Rosemary Sullivan puts the story in context in such a way that this book is enjoyable as well as educational.
lisatofts thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 12 and 99
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