Lost Souls of Leningrad

She Writes. Nov. 2022. 344p. ISBN 9781647422677. pap. $17.95. F
DEBUTThe 1941 siege of Leningrad has fascinated novelists time and again. This debut historical novel was inspired by Parry’s longstanding interest in Russia. Her heroines are teenage Yelena and her widowed grandmother, Sofya. They face mortal perils as Hitler assaults the heart of Russia. Starvation is inevitable as food depots are bombed and winter arrives. The women are buoyed by the love of their sweethearts. Sofya’s lover is an admiral, but she has kept an immense secret from him for decades. Yelena’s young lover drives in the convoys that supply the city from Lake Ladoga. Sofya and Yelena perform heroic deeds but also bad acts as they struggle to survive. With the Russian attack on Ukraine fresh in the imagination of readers, the wartime horrors of the siege and the emotional toll on the victims ring true. Parry has transformed her impressive research into a vigorous story of how love vanquishes despair.
VERDICT Like the novels of Helen Dunmore, David Benioff, and others, Parry’s work covers appalling agonies. There is an O. Henry quality in the revelation of an amazing connection among the characters. Readers of Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea will enjoy the action focused on the teenager.
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