The Soviet Sisters
by Anika Scott
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Pub Date 14 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 30 Jun 2022
Two sisters become embroiled in the burgeoning Cold War in this spellbinding novel of espionage, secrets and betrayals
Berlin, 1947: good Soviets Vera and Marya find themselves mired in the covert post-war conflicts that are shaping a new world order. When Marya, an interpreter liaising with the British, gets caught in secret agent Vera’s web of deceit, she must make desperate choices to survive – and to protect those she loves. Nine years later, as the Soviets confront their Stalinist past, Vera revisits that pivotal moment, unravelling shocking truths about her sister and herself. Against an epic backdrop, Anika Scott weaves a nail-biting, morally complex story of double–triple bluff and loyalty – or otherwise – to family or motherland.
‘Electrifying, meticulously researched, and expertly plotted, The Soviet Sisters is at once a Cold War thriller, a gripping spy story, a page-turning mystery, and a familial drama’
Lara Prescott, New York Times-bestselling author of The Secrets We Kept
‘What a page-turner! The era and setting were very fresh, I learned so much, and I loved being taken around post-war Berlin. East and West, love and hate – this story gives beautiful insight into the opposites that can make or break a sisters' bond. Compelling’
Mandy Robotham, USA Today-bestselling author of The Berlin Girl and The Girl Behind the Wall
‘A masterful novel, and brilliantly plotted. I was gripped from the first pages, never knowing which of the sisters’ first-person narratives to trust, or what would happen next. Cleverly playing on concepts of truth, ideology and loyalty, the characters are put to ultimate tests of morality. Immaculately researched, eloquently written, the reader gains a very clear sense of the tension and political complexity of the time in which the characters had to navigate their lives. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Congratulations to Anika on this wonderfully engaging novel!’
Louise Fein, bestselling author of People Like Us and The Hidden Child
Average rating from 8 members
The Soviet Sisters by Anika Scott is an excellent WWII/post WWII era historical fiction that has it all: history, suspense, mystery, intrigue, twists and turns, amd surprises that helped keep me interested from beginning to end. I loved it!
I really enjoyed Ms. Scott’s previous book, The German Heiress, so i was keen on reading this book as well. And what a gem!
Alternating between two different timelines, two different sisters, really kept my mind turning and whirling trying to figure out what details were actually correct, and which details were part of the “shaded” truth. Entering into the minds of each sister, Vera and Marya, purposely kept some of the truths and plot points vague so as to not reveal too much at one time. It really gave me a better understanding of the confusion, political intrigue, double crossings, and the high stakes that were present in the post-war/Cold War atmosphere. The questions that were carried through on what really did happen, and where did loyalty really fall, were finally revealed at the end, and made for a very gripping and addictive narrative.
It was very unique and I highly recommend it for any historical fiction fan.
Thank you NG and Duckworth Books for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.
I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 7/14/22.
This was a really captivating story!!! Two Soviet sisters, two completely different personalities, one of them might be a spy, or are both of them spies? Can love play a role in their life? Dare they have a private life? Or is the Soviet Union more important than individuals? Quite an emotional read that got me thinking, that made me angry and sad as well. I really really enjoyed it!
I received this novel as a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley.
I love historical fiction and so I loved this book. It was well written, with a compelling plot with a dual timeline and narrative, and well developed characters, some of which I loved. A really enjoyable read.
Moscow in 1956 just after the death of Stalin, Vera, a high-ranking Soviet official starts to look into the arrest of her sister, Marya, who is in a prison camp in Siberia. Marya was arrested for spying in 1947. The story follows two timelines and narrators – Marya in Berlin in 1947 and Vera in 1956. At times I found the two separate accounts quite confusing but then this is a book about espionage. I was happy that my confusion was resolved by the end. The two sisters are very different characters and seem to have a love hate relationship. During the course of the book they find out shocking revelations about each other. The account of Berlin just after the war with the divisions and the different ways of life for the German population and each of the occupying forces, was fascinating. I also enjoyed the descriptions of life in Soviet Russia and the political turmoil after Stalin’s death were. Thanks to NetGalley and Duckworth Books for the ARC.
Initially, I gave the novel 5 stars, but it is merely because I absolutely loved the second half of the book; when I was completely immersed in the story and kept on reading because I wanted to know the ending. I found the beginning and the midsection a bit boring, far-fetched and contrived, like a pick-the-traitor game.
Part of the story is a prelude to the Berlin crisis of 1958-1959 (which eventually would escalate in the erection of the most iconic image of the Cold War: the Wall; the other timeline are transcribed accounts, to prove the innocence of USSR citizen Marya, who was arrested for high treason in Berlin and sentenced to serve 15 years in a gulag, and going back to the events leading up to her arrest.
The protagonists are more or less representative of the forces that determined the course of events.: the USSR sisters vs the Allied Powers, with Germany/Marlow right in center of this playing field.
The author opted for a character-driven story about love, and betrayal, however, I feel there was more to be had.
The author barely addresses major events, and I think she could have given a little more background information on a divided Berlin. I know the city well, but why use Friedrichstraße, when the whole world knows this as Checkpoint Charlie?
I feel that a map of Berlin would have been useful, - Treptow (park), Tiergarten, Tegel, et&t - that means nothing to people who don't know Berlin.
I found the ending disappointing, it left too many unanswered for. How can one be so forgiving? Sadly, and imho, Mayra's betrayal is more severe than that of her sister, and I am baffled Henry would take her back…
The aspect with the fairy tale book made me feel uneasy: I wonder if readers are aware that 'fairytale books' (most likely Grimm's Kinder-und Hausmärchen) were mandatory items for any German family in Nazi Germany, as part of Nazi propaganda; putting Marlow's downfall in a whole new and more powerful light.
Albeit, since the author mentions these issues only in passing, the book loses power and depth, and remains a bit superficial and romanticized.
If you read this as is, it's a quick, immersive and emotional read, for me it was a good read, yet feel there was more to be had.
I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for this arc. I leave this review voluntarily.
Recommended, 4 stars.
I struggled a bit with "The Soviet Sisters" due to the politics, plot twists and the fact that you could not necessarily believe what people said! Having enjoyed a previous book by Anika Scott (The German Heiress/Finding Clara) though I persevered and eventually found the novel enjoyable.
The Soviet Union had a hard time during WW2, a lot of it at the hands of the Germans, but they still became one of the powers, with Great Britain, USA and France, managing the situation in Germany and particularly Berlin immediately after the war. There seems to have been very little trust between these different countries, and a lot of double agents and general double crossing. This is what makes the plot of this novel so complex and makes the reader want to reach the end to discover what happens to the various protagonists.
Thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for the opportunity to review this book.
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