Lost Souls of Leningrad
Published by: She Writes Press
Release Date: November 8, 2022
June 1941. Hitler’s armies race toward vulnerable Leningrad. In a matter of weeks, the Nazis surround the city, cut off the food supply, and launch a vicious bombardment. Widowed violinist Sofya Karavayeva and her teenage granddaughter, Yelena, are cornered in the crumbling city.
On Leningrad’s outskirts, Admiral Vasili Antonov defends his homeland and fights for a future with Sofya. Meanwhile, Yelena’s soldier fiancé transports food across the Ice Road—part of the desperate effort to save Leningrad. With their help, the two women inch toward survival, but the war still exacts a steep personal price, even as Sofya’s reckoning with a family secret threatens to finish what Hitler started.
Equal parts war epic, family saga, and love story, Lost Souls of Leningrad brings to vivid life this little-known chapter of World War II in a tale of two remarkable women—grandmother and granddaughter—separated by years and experience but of one heart in their devotion and determination. Neither the oppression of Stalin nor the brutality of Hitler can destroy their courage, compassion, or will in this testament to resilience.
“Set in 1941 Leningrad, this tension-filled, well-crafted WWII historical novel tells the harrowing story of Sofya Karavayeva, a widowed violinist, and Yelena, her spirited, young granddaughter. . . . Through masterfully created characters and vivid dialogue, this powerful, inspiring saga brings to the forefront the overwhelming challenges of the daily life of those ‘lost in Leningrad’ during one of the most treacherous periods in Russian history. . . . Lost Souls of Leningrad is a thought-provoking, disturbing, and compassionate portrayal of war’s impact and how the lives of ordinary people are forever changed.”
—Historical Novel Reviews
“A compelling story, effectively told through the alternating perspectives of Sofya, Yelena, Pavel, and Vasili. A thoroughly researched and sensitively written wartime drama.”
“Lost Souls of Leningrad is a sweeping, heartbreaking, and life-affirming saga. … A remarkable and immersive book that belongs on the shelf with Life and Fate.”
—Kim Taylor Blakemore, author of The Companion and After Alice Fell
“With the devastating siege of Leningrad as the backdrop, . . . the despair and brutality of war is evoked through a tender human story of love, family, music, and hope. A stirring novel I couldn’t put down!”
—Linda Kass, author of Tasa’s Song and A Ritchie Boy
“Lost Souls of Leningrad dives into the personal story of a family navigating one of the major atrocities in modern history. Told with the authority that only a scholar can provide, combined with the chops of a natural storyteller, this book is a can’t-put-down triumph.”
—Suzy Vitello, author of Faultland, The Empress Chronicles, and The Moment Before
“This is historical fiction that feels ripped from today’s headlines, . . . an engaging portrayal of love and survival in wartime.”
—Debra Dean, bestselling author of The Madonnas of Leningrad, a New York Times Editors’ Choice
Sources and Scholarship
The following works of non-fiction and fiction were included in my research for Lost Souls of Leningrad.
The 900 Days, Harrison Salisbury, 1969
Leningrad 1941: The Blockade, Dimitri V. Pavlov, 1965
Leningrad, Anna Reid, 2011
Leningrad: Siege and Symphony, Brian Moynahan, 2014
The Unwomanly Face of War, Svetlana Alexievich, 2018
Last Witnesses: An Oral History of World War II, Svetlana Alexievich, 2020
A Writer at War, Vasily Grossman, edited and translated by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova, 2005
The Road: Stories, Journalism and Essays, Vasily Grossman, 2010
Russia’s War, Richard Overy, 1997
Symphony for the City of the Dead, M.T.Anderson, 2015
Leningrad Under Siege: First Hand Accounts of the Ordeal, Ales Adamovich and Danill Granin, 2007
Leningrad: State of Siege, Michael Jones, 2009
Writing the Siege of Leningrad, Cynthia Simmons and Nina Perlina, 2002
The War Within: Diaries from the Siege of Leningrad, Alexis Peri, 2017
Leningrad, David Glantz, 2015
The Siege of Leningrad, Leon Goure, 1962
Frozen Tears, Albert Pleysier, 2008
Russia in the Microphone Age, Stephen Lovell, 2015
Leningrad 1941-42: Morality in a City Under Siege, Sergey Yarov, 2017
The works of the late Vasily Grossman are listed without publication dates to avoid, not create, confusion. Stalingrad was written in the 1940’s-50’s, published in the Soviet Union several times in the 1950’s under extreme censorship and with the title, For a Just Cause.
Life and Fate was written in 1959, and first published in Switzerland in 1980. Grossman’s works are now all available in English. The Road is listed under non-fiction above. It contains both fiction and non-fiction.
Stalingrad, Vasily Grossman
Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman
The Siege, Helen Dunmore, 2001
Ice Road, Gillian Slovo, 2004
The Madonnas of Leningrad, Debra Dean, 2006
City of Thieves, David Benioff, 2008
The Conductor, Sarah Quigley, 2011