I thought I had a better understanding of the basics of Russian/Soviet history, but the more I read about any subject the more I realize that there is so much I really don't know at all. (Isn't that part of what motivates us to read, though, a better understanding of the world?). I thought the Bolsheviks were the run up to Soviet Communists, but apparently this is far more intricate than I thought. Ludmilla Petrushevskaya had the misfortune of being the daughter of Bolsheviks and therefore by the time WWII came around her family was essentially an "enemy of the state".
So I have just started reading her memoir, The Girl from the Metropol Hotel, and what might well be categorized as a misery memoir, I think is going to be quite something else. If her family was landowning and wealthy then I expect she would not have fared well. I've read books about Russian aristocrats who ended up doormen in Paris hotels after the Revolution. Her family, however, remained in Moscow and they led an itinerant life, and according to the description of this prize winning memoir, she grew up with "a remarkable lack of self-pity". It begins:
"When we leave this life, our memories ad accumulated knowledge leave with us, but some traits and habits may be passed on to the next generation. Extreme, often unreasonable stubbornness; a conviction that food must be spartan (despite unbridled gluttony during holidays) and showers cold; indiscriminate hatred for authorities; loyalty to one's principles, even if one's family must suffer; a sentimental fondness for music and poetry and unseemly squabbling over trifles; a fierce honesty in all affairs and utter disregard for deadlines; love for humanity and acute hatred for the next-door neighbor; need for both silence and constant screaming; the ability to survive on nothing most of the time and then mad spending on presents; a terrible mess in the house, while insisting on everyone else's cleanliness; and endless love for the little ones, especially when they are asleep in all their cherubic beauty."
I wonder if this is going to set me on a path of all things Russian? I do believe this year might well be the year of the memoir for me in any case. This includes photos and the prose is elegant and I think it may well be a very charming read despite the dire situation. I'll let you know.