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Irina's Story by Jim Williams
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Irina's Story

by Jim Williams

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117820,536 (3.14)6

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I still have not finished this book. Usually I put a book down right away or finish it fairly quickly. This book has some interesting parts but is also very slow in others. I am interested in it but it just doesn’t grab me and give me the urge to keep reading. I gave it two stars because I’d occasionally go back to it between other books so there is something that is a little compelling but not overwelmingly. (I know this review doesn’t really talk about the plot, other's reviews do though. The plot sounded interesting to me and I really wanted to like it but I don’t. I don’t dislike it either. ) ( )
  NixieH | Oct 24, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book follows Irina’s family throughout the 20th century in Russia. It is told as Irina is an old lady, looking back on her life and telling the stories of her family. Irina herself is a hunchback and never did marry.

It was ok. There were a lot of characters to remember, and it didn’t help that I didn’t manage to read it without setting it aside for other monthly challenges. I found some stories more interesting than others; as usual, the women’s stories are usually more interesting to me. I was less interested when there was too much talk of politics (though, throughout 20th century Russia, there is a good chunk of that, affecting everyone!). I did appreciate the author’s note at the end, as I always do when I read historical fiction. ( )
  LibraryCin | Mar 6, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Irina’s Story is the historical novel about the Uspensky family throughout the 20th century in Russia. Jim Williams did his utmost to paint a broad variety of colorful characters, mix it with the historical background of the last Romanov Tsar, Bolsheviks, First and Second World War, Stalin up to the fall of the Iron Curtain with Gorbachev. At age 90, Irina Uspenskaya is the last surviving witness of this family saga, once recorded in diaries, and now retold, reframed from a primarily female point of view. Heroes of wars, victims sent to the Gulag, Jewish people despised, trust and religion dismantled.

Irina recollects from memory, love letters and fiction. Sometimes she steps out of the storyline to reflect on the way such a time span can be bridged, how fiction is woven into a memoir. This Russian tale kept me reading for hours. ( )
  hjvanderklis | Feb 16, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book in exchange for a review. It took me awhile to get through this book. Some sections seemed very slow, others went very quickly for me, particularly the least 1/4 of the book. There is a lot of history in the story, but told from the viewpoints of the characters in the book. Irina seems like a person you would like to meet, she has lots of stories to tell and an interesting take on life. ( )
  dmjohnson12 | Jan 29, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
One of my first Russian novels, so I enjoyed learning about the revolutions, and the impact that communism and the forced labour camps had on the country, as well as the hero worship that Russians have/had for Lenin and Stalin. Inspite of his assertions that all he knows about Russia comes from on-the-go research, Jim Williams has managed to do a pretty good job summarizing the extant political narratives of Russia and there is no sugarcoating/happy ending for any of the characters' fates given the times that they were living in. There could have been more flair and style to the writing, but the content and the musings of Irushka (whom I suspect has a lot in common with the author) make this book worth a read. A gentle, slow-paced read for someone who wants to ease into the political and social maze of Russian society. ( )
  jananih | Jan 25, 2017 |
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