There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby – Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

I really, really wanted to enjoy this book. I spied it in Waterstones, loved the title, read the blurb, did some research and decided that this author, definitely one I will enjoy.

However I felt a bit lost due to the nature of the stories. I struggled to draw any meaning from them and often, any sense. They were, in a way, twisted fairy tales, but not ones that I recognised. I remember having a discussion with a friend of mine about writing. He was studying journalism at the time and one of his lecturers/tutors said that a book is a good book when there is a meaning beneath it, when it tries to use the medium to present a commentary, this has always stuck with me and is something I try to do in my own writing. This book didn’t have that for me, or if it did, I missed it. The introduction actually made much of the fact that the writing itself was representative of the time, place and experiences of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, but I didn’t pick up on that at all. That, however, is probably due to my ignorance of Russia at the period in which this was written (as you can see from books I have read in the past, I am more of an 18th Century aficionado, which, if anyone could recommend, I would really like to read social history books about France in this period).

Anyway, back to the book; the stories were twisted and dark and even though it was a translation, the writing itself was wonderful. I was amazed at the imagination these stories were pulled from, however, it wasn’t a book I enjoyed reading and I really had to force myself to finish it.

While this is a good book and I can appreciate why people would enjoy it, it isn’t something I would read again, however, there are people I know who would pull more meaning and understanding from it that I could.


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