cover image Traitor's Daughter

Traitor's Daughter

Anna Lorme. Holmes & Meier Publishers, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8419-1294-6

This latest addition to the publisher's French Expressions series is an affecting and chilling autobiographical novel, Lorme's first to be translated into English. The narrator, Anna Markov, was born in 1925 to a family afflicted by ``four generations of nobility'', a stain that makes their motives and position in Stalin's Russia forever suspect. Anna's family begins to dissolve, ravaged by desertion, death, arrest and alcoholism. Not that Anna's family is unique: at one point she observes that a third of her fellow students, fearful of reprisals against them as children of traitors, ``no longer mentioned their fathers.'' Through her travails, Anna grows from a sickly young girl into an obdurate young woman, an evolution marked by subtle changes in the novel's tone. What makes Anna most disturbing to her family--and to readers--is her lack of perspective. Lenin having died in 1924 (and Czar Nicholas II six years earlier), Anna's life is coincident with Stalin's regime. ``I was very grateful to Lenin and Stalin for this soup,'' she notes early on, because ``before them there had been nothing at all to eat.'' Lorme's use of a dispassionate diaristic voice gives her book an edge but, unfortunately, like a child's journal, A Traitor's Daughter is abandoned at the end rather than finished. (June)