A Book Review: The Beautiful Assassin by Michael White
For the Soviets, Tat’yana is a symbol of a near perfect dream that they want to lure the Americans with – a stunning woman solider who fought and killed over 300 German soliders in the most difficult and terrifying conditions.
The Russian political hawks see her as an instrument to be used to lure the Americans to join the war against Hitler. That Tat’yana craves for no such fame or name other than to continue fighting as a solider for her country is of no consequence to the Soviets. They present her as their cultural ambassador to Eleanor Roosevelt but in reality they attempt to use her as their spy to findout everything about President Roosevelt’s future plans. Thrust into a political battlefield where the enemies play hidden games and make dangerous moves, Tat’yana is cornered by all sides, torn by her friendship and respect for Eleanor and the desire to serve and be true to her country – the
Russia’s most famous woman soldier forced to dress up like a Doll to woo the Americans
From start to finish, the book is gripping because it has a fantastic protagonist, namely Tat’yana. You can feel her pain as your own. A woman solider has to live and take decisions in a doubly careful manner but few understand the compulsions she lives with, particularly the Americans who see her as a kind of cultural entertainment.
For instance, Tat’yana is appalled when she is advised dress up, expose her body and told to pretend that she is unmarried when meeting the American Press. She says, “ I am a soldier. Why do I need to dress up or pretend to be single?” The Russians tell her that the American Press need to feel she has a sexy element to her personality. She is told to wear perfume because the Americans cannot stand body odor. She learns how different the Americans are when it comes to judging people by their appeariances. If she didn’t dress up the way they expected her to, they would not write about her. American socialites ask her questions like "What did you do when you had your 'womanly time' on the battlefield?" and Tat’yana is struck by the frivolous nature of an American woman's mind during a time of war.
The dilemma Tat’yana faces is one that most women in any profession are likely to face – why should dressing up to impress a target audience matter when you are damn good at what you do?
during Stalin’s rule Russia
What interested me most was Tat’yana’s recollections of the past that take us through life in
at a time when Stalin’s rule was supreme. It is clear from her version that the
Russians themselves despised what Stalin had reduced their motherland to. Russia
Interesting conversations like these take us back to that period in
when Stalin’s law was
“I could recall at night, my parents sitting at the kitchen table, bickering about the government. My mother calling Stalin that ublyudok – mongrel dog – though she would always, as did most citizens even in the privacy of their homes, instinctively lower her voice when saying something the least critical about the government…”
Russian Spy in the White House: Torn between loyalties
Destiny and political conspiracy catapult Tat’yana to meet Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the
Roosevelt. The two women become friends instantly though Tatyana has been sent
by the Russians to spy on everything that is happening within the White House.
Torn between the loyalty she feels towards her motherland and the trust shown
towards her by the First Lady, we can see Tatyana questioning her motives for
following secretive directions that seem to have nothing to do with the welfare
of the Russians. US
And out of the blue, just like that, Tat’yana disappears while in the
. The Russians are livid and
label their most respected woman solider as a traitor. The truth is never
known. What happened to her? Why did she disappear? Did the Americans kill her
on finding out that she was a Russian spy? Did she make a tough choice between
being a good, loyal solider or a good, trust worthy friend? US
The other characters in the book are not as interesting as she is except for the First Lady of the
definitely makes a mark and intrigues our interest with her freedom and an
instinctive sense of what is right and wrong. But I was not pleased with the
way it ended – without fizz. US
It left one feeling as though at the end of a fantastically presented six course dish, there was simply no effort to whip up and serve a delectable dessert. The way this novel ended was with a bland bump and that should have been avoided because throughout the story, the plot and the pace had been gripping.