No, There Once Was a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is not a novel about James Bond. What it is, is a collection of short stories by a famous Russian female writer.
It’s been a long time since I read any work by a Russian author and this depressing book reminded me why I avoid them. I think the title of this book provides enough of hint of what the reader can expect to find within. Told from a female perspective, the stories are wrought with hardship, loss, and struggle. As one might expect, there are few happy endings celebrated here. This is a collection of gut wrenching stories where love is as scarce as private living quarters, new clothing, and nutritious food. Adulterous relationships, alcoholism, and unplanned pregnancies abound in this book.
I applaud the translator Anna Summers for bringing this work to light. Petrushevskaya is a powerful writer who provides an illuminating look inside a culture long hidden behind an iron curtain of silence.