From a privileged childhood in Tsarist St Petersburg to dedicated member of the British Communist Party, the life of Sofka Dolgorouky resembles a seismograph of the great upheavals of the twentieth century. In this deeply personal biography, Sofka Zinovoeff explores the turbulent, often scandalous life of her grandmother.
An old Russian diary provides the initial inspiration. Written when Sofka was a beautiful young woman trapped in Nazi-occupied Paris, it turns out to be a series of passionate letters to the great love of her life. It is only after Sofka's death that her granddaughter reads these pages and decides to dig deeper by following in her grandmother's footsteps. Zinovieff travels to Sofka's birthplace, St Petersburg, and to the Crimea, where she fled after the 1917 Revolution. She uncovers hidden MI5 files and returns to the Nazi camp at Vittel where Sofka was interned and worked with the French Resistance, where she uncovers various secrets.
Even more outrageous in its day than her conversion from princess to communist was Sofka's private life. She not only believed in sexual freedom, but often placed love, literature, and adventure before her children. Sofka'a story is much more than that of a princess in exile. She was someone whose existence was dislocated by revolution yet who believed in revolution as a way of making the world a better place and who produced her own revolutions throughout her life.