Book Reviews

The girl from the metropole hotels

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, the author, was born to a Bolshevik intellectual family just across the opulent Metropole Hotel in Moscow.

In this biography she writes about her life, and how eventually faith and diligent studying allowed her to land a radio reporter job then eventually she started to write.

Shortly after the end of the 1917 Revolution and World War II, Russia was still very poor, and citizens had to line up for everything with  monthly coupon books on hand.

Petrushevskaya’s relatives were prominent Bolsheviks and lived comfortably in the Metropole Hotel. They wanted her to have a rich life, profound and good education, but faith had other plans.

The family in short order ended up in Kuibyshev on the Volga River, where as a child she endured hunger most of the time.

Shoeless and dressed in rags, she lived a miserable life, receiving, partially through her stubbornness, the poorest primary education imaginable.

Eventually through a brilliant and caring teacher, she picked up enough knowledge to advance in the Soviet life.

Her brief episodes gives the reader a vivid picture at how people lived through World War II while the army officers lived relatively “opulent” and privileged lives.

Her simple, sarcastic but direct writing style reflects vividly how life unfolded and the way people behaved towards one another in difficult times.

The pictures record important people and locations in her life.

This memoir is more than a simple telling of the life of a child growing up; it shows the living environment of ordinary Russians and their thinking, and attitude towards life.

Highly recommended.

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