Narrated By: Karen Cass
Duration: 19 hours and 43 minutes
What to expect
‘Compassionate and compelling, this is not a political story but a quest for love in the heart of darkness’ Simon Sebag Montefiore
‘A biography on an epic scale, with a combination of tragedy and history worthy of a Russian novel’ Independent
‘Superbly well told’ Sunday Times
Who was Svetlana Alliluyeva?
A little girl, her father’s only daughter, his “little sparrow”; instructed to bury her secrets in her heart by her mother, who shot herself soon after.
An observer as her relatives were mercilessly killed and her first love exiled.
A woman who tore through relationships with men, joined and abandoned various religions, and became the most famous defector to the United States.
The victim of an inescapable truth: “You are Stalin’s daughter. . . . You can’t live your own life. You can’t live any life. You exist only in reference to a name.”
Biography: general, History
Listen to a sample
‘A tremendously exciting and stimulating biography … Never have I read a biography that reminded my more of a picaresque novel, with its heroine bouncing like a pinball from one location to another, from one bizarre situation to another … Her life may have been a mess, but this masterful biography shows that it was her mess, and a magnificent mess, too, in its own particular way’ Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday *****
‘It takes a fine biographer to capture a woman as parti-coloured as this, and Sullivan has produced a delicate, balanced and unforgettably good portrait of a courageous and magnificent woman’ Daily Telegraph *****
‘What would it mean to be the child of one of the most feared mass murderers in history? Rosemary Sullivan’s compelling biography of Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin’s only daughter, makes an admirable attempt at an answer…The remarkable thing about Stalin’s daughter was not that she was imperious, infuriating, batty at times, but that she had survived at all — and survived, as this entertaining book shows, with her dignity and integrity in tact’ Sunday Times
‘Was Stalin a monster? Oh, yes. The question that threads through this lively intelligent book is a more interesting one, though: can you live with the idea that you are the daughter of a monster?’ The Times
‘Reading this extensively researched book it is impossible not to feel for a woman who grew up “the political prisoner of my father’s name”’ Independent on Sunday
‘Sullivan controls her widespread canvas and large cast in exemplary fashion. Svetlana was chaotic, exasperating, difficult to the point of impossible — but never boring. She was one of the few credits that you can attribute to Stalin’ Book of the Week, Daily Mail
‘A biography on an epic scale, with a combination of tragedy and history worthy of a Russian novel. She recreates with clarity and compassion the life of a brave woman’ Independent
‘A singular story, brilliantly told’ Daily Telegraph