Just send me word - Review

My latest book conquest was Just send me word a read by Orlando Figes and it's quite an impressive job he's done with this one, as with his other books. 

Basically the book is based on the correspondence between a gulag prisoner and his future wife.

After the co-star of the book, Lev, was captured by the Germans, he was forced to work as a translator in some German camps. After he and his fellow POWs were freed, they were arrested and sent to the GULAG as political prisoners because the state was worried they would have been turned into spies (a sadly common occurrence for Russian POWs).

Anyhow, the story tells how Lev was able to survive the camp and how he got back in touch with Svetlana, his future wife. The impressive this is that the whole book is made up of their correspondence, most of which was carefully smuggled to avoid the censors. Svetlana kept every letter he wrote. As you read it's as if the events are right now giving a really personal look into camp life.

After the background story, the book basically uses their correspondence to tell their tale and it's pretty amazing. Figes also throws in historical notes along the way (what was happening in the country at the time etc)

Not only did Lev survive his 8 years in camp, he ended up marrying Svetlana, got politically rehabilitated after Stalin died and, basically they both lived happily to the ripe old ago of 90+.

Of course, that short description doesn't really do the book justice.
At the end of their correspondence (after Lev was freed), they had over 40 kg of letters!

All in all, I enjoyed this read, although if you've read a lot of Gulag survivor books, it might not be of great interest.
I have to say though, for the moment, The Whisperers is still my favourite Figes book by a long shot.


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