Sashenka Zeitlin is the daughter of a Jewish banker living in St Petersburg. In the winter of 1916, revolution is in the air, and the beautiful, headstrong sixteen-year-old Sashenka is seduced by the ideals of the Bolsheviks. As Comrade Snowfox she plays a dangerous game of double cross and survives a spell of interrogation at the hands of Captain Sagan.

Twenty years on, Sashenka is happily married to a senior party official with two children; working as a magazine editor, she enjoys the comfortable lifestyle she despised as a teenager. In Stalin’s Russia this is a dangerous time for those who speak out of turn but, as Stalin’s favourite, Sashenka feels that she and her family are safe. When she recklessly embarks on an illicit love affair, she cannot begin to imagine the repercussions that her actions will have for the next two generations of her family.

In Sashenka Simon Montefiore has brought to life an unforgettable character, one who enchants and inspires. Hers is an intensely moving story that combines history with a totally absorbing plot. It was during ten years of researching twentieth century Russian history that Montefiore found the inspiration for this exceptional novel of love and endurance of the spirit that rises above man’s inhumanity to man.



Share this review

Buy "The Beggar at the Gate & Other Stories" for £2.05 (Kindle edition)

12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award


Editors' choice





(US) $27.00
(UK) £12.99

(US) 9781416595540
(UK) 9780593056370


533, 544


Appeared in

Reviewed by