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The Girl From the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up…
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The Girl From the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia (2006)

by Lyudmila Petrushevskaya

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 12 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
This felt so very disjointed. The "chapters" felt like stories she wanted to tell about her life, but they didn't seem connected to each other at all - and I usually like that style. Perhaps talking about herself in the first person in some chapters and using third person in others contributed to the feeling that they had little to do with another.
I was hoping for more about life in the Metropol Hotel itself (after reading A Gentleman in Moscow), but I did learn a lot about life in Russia during and after WW2. I can't imagine going through the trash of the other family in a communal apartment in order to make a soup from potato skins and fish bones.

I'm curious about her fairy tales and may hunt them down, but I'm not in a hurry to do so. ( )
  AWahle | Mar 22, 2018 |
Lyudmila Petrushevskaya was born in 1938 at the Metropol Hotel into a family of intellectuals. She did not live there long; some of her family were arrested and some executed as enemies of the people. This book is her coming of age memoir. It is told in a series of vignettes, showing her childhood of deprivation--eating from garbage cans, going without shoes in the winter, living outside in the summer. She tells her life as a child, through a child's eyes--very matter-of-fact, since it's the only life she knows, and thus it must be the norm. As a child's story, it is also not political.

Recommended.

3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Dec 18, 2017 |
It was okay. I couldn't always follow her timeline. She talks about sleeping together with her mother for years but then is always off to various schools. The book really was pieced together at times like vague childhood memories. Granted this was a difficult childhood and it's great that she grew up to become an accomplished author. ( )
  kayanelson | Aug 25, 2017 |
Left with her grandmother while her mother went to Moscow to finish her education, a very young Ludmilla, was sent to go through neighbors garbage. Potato peels meant food, cabbage leaves maybe a soup. She and other feral children would climb in the bread man's wagon while he
Was making a delivery and lick breadcrumbs from the wagon floor. She could not attend school as she had no shoes, and in summer she ran wild, sleeping where she could. She would not have her own bed, and this a cot, until she was seventeen.

This was life for her family in Stalin's Russia. Yet, this young woman, from this disadvantaged family would become one of Russia's more successful authors. This is her story, how she lived, what she did. The prose is relatively simple, without sentiment, occasional references to fairytales, or quotes from them. It always amazes me how someone rises to success after woeful beginnings and how some sink instead under the weight. Dwells little on Soviet political policies, it is rather a view of how many ordinary Russians lived under his dictatorship.

A powerful story, one that cries to be heard, effective because of the narrow scope and poignant
In the difficulties and hardships it presented. Photos are included. An admirable woman who not only survived but in later years thrived.

ARC from publisher. ( )
  Beamis12 | Feb 14, 2017 |
Showing 4 of 4
Like a stained-glass Chagall window, Petrushevskaya’s Soviet-era memoir creates a larger panorama out of tiny, vivid chapters, shattered fragments of different color and shape. She throws the misery of her daily life into relief through the use of fairy-tale metaphors familiar to fans of her fiction: At the end of a chapter about being mistreated by other children at the sanitarium, she writes: “The circle of animal faces had never crushed the girl; it remained behind, among the tall trees of the park, in the enchanted kingdom of wild berries.” Ultimately, the girl emerges not only uncrushed but one of Russia’s best, and most beloved, contemporary authors, which brings to mind Auden’s famous words about Yeats: “Mad Ireland hurt him into poetry.” This memoir shows us how Soviet life hurt Ludmilla Petrushevskaya into crystalline prose.
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lyudmila Petrushevskayaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Summers, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thibaudat, Jean-PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zonina, MachaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This translation is dedicated to my father, Arnold Friedrich, another wartime orphan, and to George Scialabba, an author, editor, and friend.
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When we leave this life, our memories and accumulated knowledge leave with us, but some traits and habits may be passed on to the next generation.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014312997X, Paperback)

The prizewinning memoir of one of the world’s great writers, about coming of age and finding her voice amid the hardships of Stalinist Russia
 
Born across the street from the Kremlin in the opulent Metropol Hotel—the setting of the New York Times bestselling novel A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles—Ludmilla Petrushevskaya grew up in a family of Bolshevik intellectuals who were reduced in the wake of the Russian Revolution to waiting in bread lines. In The Girl from the Metropol Hotel, her prizewinning memoir, she recounts her childhood of extreme deprivation—of wandering the streets like a young Edith Piaf, singing for alms, and living by her wits like Oliver Twist, a diminutive figure far removed from the heights she would attain as an internationally celebrated writer. As she unravels the threads of her itinerant upbringing—of feigned orphandom, of sleeping in freight cars and beneath the dining tables of communal apartments, of the fugitive pleasures of scraps of food—we see, both in her remarkable lack of self-pity and in the two dozen photographs throughout the text, her feral instinct and the crucible in which her gift for giving voice to a nation of survivors was forged.

“From heartrending facts Petrushevskaya concocts a humorous and lyrical account of the toughest childhood and youth imaginable. . . . It [belongs] alongside the classic stories of humanity’s beloved plucky child heroes: Edith Piaf, Charlie Chaplin, the Artful Dodger, Gavroche, David Copperfield. . . . The child is irresistible and so is the adult narrator who creates a poignant portrait from the rags and riches of her memory.” —Anna Summers, from the Introduction

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 27 Jan 2017 08:40:05 -0500)

"The prizewinning memoir of one of the world's great writers, about coming of age and finding her voice amid the hardships of Stalinist Russia. Like a young Edith Piaf, wandering the streets singing for alms, and like Oliver Twist, living by his wits, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya grew up watchful and hungry, a diminutive figure far removed from the heights she would attain as an internationally celebrated writer. In The Girl from the Metropol Hotel, her prizewinning memoir, she recounts her childhood of extreme deprivation, made more acute by the awareness that her family of Bolshevik intellectuals, now reduced to waiting in bread lines, once lived large across the street from the Kremlin in the opulent Metropol Hotel. As she unravels the threads of her itinerant upbringing--of feigned orphandom, of sleeping in freight cars and beneath the kitchen tables of communal apartments, of the fugitive pleasures of scraps of food--we see, both in her remarkable lack of self-pity and in the more than two dozen photographs throughout the text, her feral instinct and the crucible in which her gift for giving voice to a nation of survivors was forged"--… (more)

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