There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories


Title: There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories

Writer: Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (tr. by Anna Summers)

Publishing House: Penguin Modern Classics

Date of Publication:  January 31st 2013 (first published January 1st 2011)

Rating: 5 stars

‘’She’ll wait for his long-distance call in a phone booth at the post office. For ten prepaid minutes they’ll become one soul again, as they did over the twenty-four prepaid days of their vacation. They’ll shout and cry across thousands of mils, deceived by the promise of eternal summer, seduced and abandoned.’’

Love is a weird thing. Eerie and unexpected and devastating. It comes when you least expect it, it forces you to turn your eyes inside yourself and doubt everything you had ever taken for granted. It is a blow on the head that leaves you silent and shocked. In Petrushevskaya’s extraordinary stories love flourishes within a society that has been destroyed by the Soviet nightmare.

A Murky Fate: A woman who is desperate for tenderness decides to bring home a lover who is not so keen on ‘’love’’.

The Fall: A man and a woman try to spend a few days of seaside summer romance before life gets in the way once again.

The Goddess Parka: A rather inquisitive woman pesters a young woman about women and marriage. However, little does he know that she is going to change his life. Such a tender story!

Like Penelope: An aspiring translator and her tender mother offer hospitality to an ailing elderly lady. Sometimes life can surprise you in the most beautiful and powerful ways. A story full of hope, compassion and elegant satire.

Ali-Baba: A sad story about two troubled individuals that meet at a bar, about addiction and loneliness.

Two Deities: An ‘’accidental’’ pregnancy leads to the forming of a special family. But even a seemingly happy union has its own moments of gloom…

Father and Mother: In a rare reverse of roles, a family is suffering at the hands of a woman who is neither a mother nor a wife, but a hysterical shrew prone to fits of rage and drama.

The Impulse: A rather humorous story of a liaison gone very, very bad…

Hallelujah, Family!: Two totally irresponsible, irritating people become parents and oh, the horror because they can’t stand each other. Affair after affair, the woman does justice to her family’s reputation, the man is every bit the scoundrel. How can such people bring up children?

Give Her to Me: A composer and an actress fall for each other and devise a clever plan to succeed in the theatre world. A melancholic story of love, aspirations, motherhood and dignity.

Milgrom: Two women work together to give a young girl a summer dress and an entrance to a new life. The moving story of a Polish Jewish woman who stood against life itself and won, and an eighteen-year-old girl who is about to spread her wings.

The Story of Clarissa: An uncompromising young woman falls prey to a terrible husband. Her determination wins so future pathetic husbands, beware because there is an entire army of women who refuse to listen to your nonsense.

Tamara’s Baby: An utterly absurd yet strangely melancholic story about a divorced man whose life has collapsed and the woman who decides to care for him only to find her own demons awakened.

Young Berries: This is a story of young lust, the nightmare of the communal apartments, the cruelty of children, the terror of the Soviet society.

The Adventures of Vera: The love affairs of a girl who falls in love a little too easily and always with the wrong man in a society where men are expected to ‘’hunt’’ and women should become ‘’nuns’’.

Eros’s Way: An elderly woman falls unexpectedly in love with her friend’s husband. A story about secrecy, understanding and the fragile relationships formed within the working environment. How are we to know when Eros’s arrows find their target?

A Happy Ending: A woman who has had enough of her utterly insane, utterly useless family decides to bid them adieu. But how easily can we cut old ties?  How easily can we forget the ones nesting under your roof?

Moving Introduction and translation by Anne Summers.

‘’Where do you live, light-footed Tanya? In what little apartment with white curtains have you built a nest for yourself and your little ones? Quick and resourceful, you find time for everything, and fear of tomorrow never disturbs your sleep.’’