Lost Souls of Leningrad: A Novel

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Leningrad, Russia. 1941. Sofya’s son has just been arrested by Stalin’s police and sent off to a prison camp. Soon, her daughter-in-law will be reassigned to Moscow, leaving Sofya and her granddaughter Yelena in their Leningrad apartment.

Winter is coming. So are the Nazis.

Lost Souls of Leningrad is a beautiful, brutal novel set during the first winter of Hitler’s push against Russia. At first, the danger seems far off, but as time goes on, Sofya and Yelena realize they are both in very real danger. This is not, however, a gripping epic full of daring deeds and danger at every turn. While the men they both love find themselves performing acts of heroism, at times, the most Sofya and Yelena can do to survive. Leningrad faces air raids and starvation on a horrific scale, and only the love the two women bear for each other and their inner strength can see them through.

The writing, as I have said, is beautiful, which only makes the more harrowing scenes doubly horrific. You are unable to look away from the trauma experienced by so many real people. The rich details of the book make it more than just a recounting of historical events. It is treated with respect and dignity, with little moments of levity to remind us that the characters are still human after all.

My one complaint (and the one thing keeping me from giving this five stars) is that the deeply intimate connection between Sofya and Yelena at times becomes insular. While this does show their need to rely on each other and the treachery that can fill the rest of the world, it also means their neighbors and fellow Soviet citizens are sometimes hard to keep track of. With a few exceptions, a name would be mentioned, and I would not be able to remember whether this person had appeared before or what they meant to the story. Some seemed to be characters made to be mentioned once and thrown away.

Lost Souls of Leningrad is a vivid, intimate look at a part of history many people are aware of but few are genuinely familiar with. We know about the western front of World War Two, but what happened in Russia because of both Hitler and Stalin deserves to have some light shed on it as well. Because of this, I’m glad this book was written, and I highly recommend it.

Reviewed By:

Author Suzanne Parry
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 344 pages
Publisher She Writes Press
Publish Date 08-Nov-2022
ISBN 9781647422677 Buy this Book
Issue November 2022
Category Historical Fiction