- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
Simon MontefioreDescribe your latest project.
My latest book is a novel entitled Sashenka that spans three generations of women in a Jewish-Russian family. It is a story of love, death, betrayal, adultery, children, family, redemption, and the past, from the sumptuous wealth of Tsarist Petersburg via the elite of Stalin's Kremlin and continues to today's Moscow of oil-rich billionaires. The novel's heroine is Sashenka, herself a rich baron's daughter, who becomes a Bolshevik and then a member of Stalin's elite. She is also the mother of two adorable children, and a devoted wife who embarks on a wild affair that unleashes a disastrous series of events. Decades later, a Russian Oligarch hires a young female historian to research the archives and investigate the story of Sashenka. The historical elements in this novel are accurate, and the stories are based on true accounts, though the main characters are invented. Sashenka is a celebration of love and family, with great female characters that I myself came to love. As for material, I have drawn from my own experiences as a war correspondent in the Caucasus in the early '90s and 10 years worth of research I did in the Moscow archives. Since I am better known as the author of three history books about Russia, it was a fresh delight to write fiction, and something of a risk, and I adored writing it. Even better, it is now being translated into Russian, which is something of a vote of confidence.
Scarlett O'Hara, because there would be never a dull moment, but the first rule would be: never marry her. I only like bad villainesses, so Becky Sharp would be fun. One of my favorites would have been the gorgeous, pleasure-loving but doomed courtesan in Zola's novel Nana.
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Writers are better liars than other people: true or false?
How do you relax?
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
I love novels that tell the stories of families with great intimacy over many years. My own Sashenka, I hope, is a tribute to these great masterpieces. Here are my "Favorite Family Novels," some of which are series of novels.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Family Moskat by Isaac Bashevis Singer
The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz
Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
The Comedie Humaine by Honoré de Balzac
÷ ÷ ÷
Simon Sebag Montefiore is a historian of Russia and author of Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner; Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar; and the bestselling Young Stalin, awarded the 2007 Costa Biography Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography. Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Montefiore lives in London with his wife, the novelist Santa Montefiore, and their two children.