Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Review And Book Giveaway: There Once Lived A Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband And He Hanged Himself by Ludmilla Petrushevskskaya
This book is touching and strips away the illusions its characters might have harbored. How do we seemingly fall into life or certain relationships? I loved it.
It also has an interesting background as the author lived and wrote from when she was quite young until late in life, and described the grimness of existence in the Soviet Union during communism. The stories confront relationships, familial and romantic, with no obvious political undertones yet they were banned in Russia for years. For the grim existence these characters struggle to overcome was a harsh denounciation of the grim reality of the Soviet utopia.
The stories are sad at times, but also betrayed the vulnerability common to all. Most center around a woman, many of whom struggle as Petrushevskaya sometimes did, with loss, homelessness or poverty and even bad relationship choices. I read it right after finishing Alice Munro’s Dear Life. The latter book is lusher and more vivid in its desciptions but both books are mirror images in how they cut to the true conflicts and drama in our relationships, too often based on our own weaknesses. Love stories, yes, but not as in Cinderella but rather more nightmarish at times. Others, well, the characters settle.
One image I still see is the girl who wanders through life wearing an outfit stained under the arms with her mother’s sweat. It’s a small description yet demonstrates the author’s skill in using little to show so much.
This book is a worthwhile read. I am haunted by the world described and many of the characters. Like the author, they do so very much with so little. This book is humanity exposed for all to see. Petrushevskaya’s last book was a New York Times bestseller and Penguin Books has kindly offered to make a copy available to a lucky reader of this post.
To win, please describe an image from something you’ve read that still sticks with you, as I mentioned the girl wearing hand me downs stained with her mother’s sweat. I’ll pick the image that haunts me most. Not a fair system but the best I came up with! Sorry, the contest is only open to those in the US...email me...post a comment...retweet with your image (but let me know in case I miss on twitter) Thanks.