Sunday Book Review – Order Number 227 – From Stalin with Love by Marina Osipova

Today’s Sunday Book Review is for Marina Osipova’s short put powerful novella – Order Number 227 – From Stalin with Love. Don’t be fooled by the subtitle, this is no satire…….As many of you know, one of my favorite genres to read is historical fiction, as I’ve always been fascinated at history. Marina has become one of my favorite historical fiction authors to read, because she knows how to bring out the humanity in characters despite some of the ugliness her characters live in. I find her stories unputdownable.


About the Author

Marina Osipova was born in East Germany into a military family and grew up in Russia where she graduated from the Moscow State Institute of History and Archives. She also has a diploma as a German language translator from the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Languages. In Russia, she worked first in a scientific-technical institute as a translator then in a Government Ministry in the office of international relations, later for some Austrian firms. For seventeen years, she lived in the United States where she worked in a law firm. Eventually, she found her home in Austria. She is an award-winning author and a member of the Historical Novel Society.




From the Author

The story is based on my grandfather’s history and one of the events of the Great Patriotic War as it was and is called on the post-Soviet space. The main facts are accurate, but they are presented through fictional characters except for my grandfather. I took the liberty to give names to thirteen of the Soviet people who among 427,910 men shed their blood in defending their motherland in punitive military units. In Matryona, I hope I have conveyed a collective image of a Russian woman who, despite her difficult fate and the life full of hardship, retained her humanity and tenderness.


“It is necessary to defend each position, each meter of our territory, up to the last drop of blood, to cling for each plot of Soviet land and to defend it as long as possible.” – from Order No. 227.

Based on the actual events on the Eastern Front of World War II, this short story is a rare account of a Soviet penal company, told from a perspective of a real person, the military prosecutor, Jakov Antonovich Krivenkov, and a fictional character, an ordinary Russian woman, Matryona, both caught in the horror of an impossible situation.
427,910 Soviet men shed their blood in defending their motherland in penal military units. They were to stop the enemy regardless of cost. Eighty percent of them did not survive. This is the story of thirteen of them.


My 5 Star Review:

Short and powerfully, Osipova once again takes us into a story of war – 1942 Soviet Union fighting the Germans. The story is initially told through Jakov Antonovich as he led one of the penal batallions to ready them for war. The penal soldiers were men who had committed lesser crimes in their country and doing jailtime, recruited to war – some had never even held a gun. The story moves through what the men endured awaiting their time to be called to the front, their training, and their built up loyalty for the man Jakov who trained and nurtured their humanity, and what came of these men as they were eventually sent off to the front.

Although the story is historical fiction. Jakov was not a fictional character, blended well into the story he told of those who worked under him. Later in the story we meet a woman, a rare human who chose to stay behind in her hut and do what she had to do to survive, despite everyone else in her village who had aleady fleed – feeding and nursing soldiers who banged on her door – whether Germans or Russians, her compassion was big enough for all. Later in the end we find how the two stories of the soldiers and the woman would meld. A good reminder in our current world of what war does to man and a woman, and how despite the evil and despair, how humanity can still exist all in the name of fighting for one’s country. #Recommended.


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29 thoughts on “Sunday Book Review – Order Number 227 – From Stalin with Love by Marina Osipova

  1. Hi Debbie – what a very interesting author to read up about … while this novella sounds so worth reading, even for its reality on what actually happened … I’ve noted it – and will see if I can get it through the library … thanks – and as you say should jog us into thinking of similar situations still occurring today – so sad … though I quite agree with you – your recommendation to read it. Thank you – I’m glad to have come across Marina’s works – cheers Hilary


  2. A well-written review with what any reader needs to know. Not in my reading genre, though. Perhaps I should read historical fiction as well–I’m not getting any younger. LOL


  3. I have a lot of respect for the Soviet and Russian people–their moral core, their work ethic, their love of country. I spent quite a bit of time there after college so I come by this first-hand. This book sounds good.


  4. Sounds like a powerful read. I was fascinated to learn some of Marina’s background. As someone who has the background knowledge, she can offer insight that many of us don’t know about.


  5. Thank you for the review of yet another fascinating book, Debby. I’m so impressed that the author managed to create this powerful story in a novella-sized book, based on the character building of thirteen soldiers and the two parallel experiences merging together. Wow!


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