By Masha Gessen
Within the Nineteen Thirties, as waves of struggle and persecution have been crashing over Europe, younger Jewish girls started separate trips of survival. One, a Polish-born lady from Bialystok, the place almost the complete Jewish neighborhood might quickly be despatched to the ghetto and from there to Hitler’s focus camps, was resolute not just to stay yet to stay with delight and defiance. the opposite, a Russian-born highbrow and introvert, might finally turn into a high-level censor below Stalin’s regime. At war’s finish, either girls came across themselves in Moscow, the place informers lurked on each nook and anti-Semitism reigned. It was once there that Ester and Ruzya might first pass paths, there that they turned the nearest of associates and discovered to belief one another with their lives.
In this deeply relocating relations memoir, journalist Masha Gessen tells the tale of her liked grandmothers: Ester, the quicksilver insurgent who consistently battled the forces of tyranny; Ruzya, a unmarried mom who joined the Communist occasion below duress and made the compromises the regime exacted of all its electorate. either misplaced their first loves within the conflict. either suffered unsatisfied unions. either have been talented linguists who made their residing as translators. And either had children—Ester a boy, and Ruzya a girl—who may develop up, fall in love, and feature young children in their personal: Masha and her more youthful brother.
With grace, candor, and meticulous learn, Gessen peels again the layers of secrecy surrounding her grandmothers’ lives. As she follows them via this notable interval in history—from the Stalin purges to the Holocaust, from the increase of Zionism to the autumn of communism—she describes how each one of her grandmothers, and earlier than them her great-grandfather, attempted to navigate a deadly line among judgment of right and wrong and compromise.
Ester and Ruzya is a spellbinding paintings of storytelling, jam-packed with political intrigue and passionate emotion, acts of braveness and acts of betrayal. right away an intimate relations chronicle and a desirable ancient story, it interweaves the tales of 2 girls with an excellent imaginative and prescient of Russian background. the result's a memoir that reads like a novel—and a rare testomony to the bonds of family members and the ability of desire, love, and endurance.
From the Hardcover edition.