Mothers and Daughters

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The widow of eminent Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov here offers a lackluster memoir of her childhood. Bonner, born in 1923, grew up enjoying the privileges of her stepfather's high rank in the Communist International. Her mother, jarringly called Mama throughout the book, had many Party obligations that often took her away from her two children, whom she would leave with nannies or with her own mother (called here by her nickname, Batanya); Batanya disdained the Communist regime that so enamored her daughter. Both women were stingy with hugs and kisses. The author recounts her mother's impatience with her frequent and often grave childhood illnesses; Mama also would tell young Elena that she was ugly and useless. Bonner's family lived in communal flats alternately in Moscow and Leningrad; neighbors changed frequently and visitors were always coming and going, which is confusing in this telling. Bonner seems to have trouble coming to terms with her father, who makes a few blurry appearances here, as well as with acknowledging her mother and stepfather's complicity in a brutal regime that would one day send them to the Gulag. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Library Journal
The world knows Bonner as the wife and fierce champion of Andrei Sakharov. In this memoir, she tells us something of her life as an adolescent and young woman growing up in Stalinist Russia. Hers was a life of privilege. Her parents, highly placed officials in the Comintern, provided her with maids, nannies, comfortable holidays. She grew up strong-willed and stubborn, characteristics which were to be tested to the uttermost following the terrible summer of 1937 ``when our era began.'' Her parents were arrested, her sheltered world collapsed, arrests, terror, war then filled her life, as it did that of her fellow citizens. Her account is often episodic, and after 1937 rather fragmentary. But she is clearly a tough, wily survivor, fearless and practiced in the ways of survival in the former Soviet Union whose unmourned collapse she has lived to witness. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/ 91.-- R.H. Johnston, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ontario
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679743354
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/1993
  • Edition description: 1st Vintage Books ed
  • Pages: 349

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