From a privileged childhood in Tsarist St Petersburg to dedicated member of the British Communist party, the life of Princess Sofka Dolgorouky reads like a seismograph of the great upheavals of the twentieth century. In this deeply personal biography, Sofka Zinovieff explores the turbulent, often scandalous life of her grandmother.
By Ian Elliot, 23 MAR 2007

“Inspired by the gift of her grandmother’s Russian diary – and her scandalous reputation – Sofka Zinovieff decided to trace her own roots… The resulting book, Red Princess, delights on several levels: as a detective story, biography, family saga, with glimpses of high society in Russia and Britain, and vivid descriptions of the individual tragedies and desperate struggles for survival of those swept up in the storms of twentieth-century history. The photographs, too, are splendid. With admirable determination, Zinovieff pursued her grandmother’s trail in Russia, the Crimea, Paris and London… Her extensive investigations and thorough weighing of the evidence have produced a convincing portrait… (a) fascinating account”

By Michael Binyon, 24 MAR 2007

“She was clever, cultured, hedonistic and brave. She moved between worlds and moved all those she met. Her granddaughter’s account is funny, honest, searing and tragic – a fascinating insight into a world where fate, war and human cruelty changed lives with a sudden reckless indifference that seems centuries ago.”

By Michael Binyon, 17 FEB 2007

“(Red Princess) is a union of comedy and tragedy infused with the heady romance of a vanished Russia… Zinovieff paints a vivid portrait… In short, a life of eccentricity and excess; of loss and exile; of courage, and of cruelty that reverberated down the generations. Red Princess is a small memorial to all the lives dislodged by the shifting sands of modern history… A marvellous story.”

By Victor Sebestyen, 23 FEB 2007

“This beautifully written, fastpaced book by her granddaughter, Sofka Zinovieff, is part biography of an extraordinary woman, part loving memoir of a relative.”

By Shiona Tregaskis, 25 FEB 2007

“Zinovieff writes vibrantly about this hard-drinking, promiscuous, beautiful and scandalous bohemian… there seems to be something poignant – and very often funny – on every other page of the book.”

By Ruth Scurr, 02 FEB 2007

“A piercing portrait of an extraordinary woman who was both a Russian princess and a communist…A story of feminine inheritance… Zinovieff approaches her subject intimately”

By Charlotte Hobson, 17 FEB 2007

“Perhaps the only drawback to this highly enjoyable biography is the shadow of utter banality that it throws over one’s own life by comparison… In this insanely cautious age, this era of po-faced monogamy and You and Yours on Radio 4, we need to be reminded of people like Sofka Dolgorouky.”

01 FEB 2007

“Like a Jew becoming a Nazi, was how her relatives saw it. How could a brainy, sensitive woman, exiled from her homeland by a monstrous totalitarian regime that hounded her class and murdered her friends and relatives, become an unflinching supporter of its creed? That is the puzzling life of the beautiful Sofka Dolgorouky… The story is told by her granddaughter, Sofka Zinovieff, who maintains an appropriate tone of slightly bemused sympathy with her captivating but repellent subject… Yet anyone reading about her sizzling charm, guts and literary gifts can’t help thinking it would have been fun to know her.”

17 FEB 2007

“Her story is a remarkable and almost unbelievable one. Told by a sympathetic granddaughter, it becomes an intimate one, too.”

By Frances Welch, 11 MAR 2007

“With feeling and wit, Zinovieff records the experiences that shaped her grandmother’s beliefs. Red Princess presents a beguiling mixture of biography and travelogue.”

By John McBratney, 03 MAT 2007

“Ensnared by an inheritance of immense privilege and all sorts of attendant restrictions, the fates gave Sofka an opportunity to create a life of her own. She embraced vigorously the opportunity and her granddaughter, with a critical pride, tells the story well.”

17 FEB 2007

“It’s impossible not to like Red Princess because Zinovieff writes with so much passion… Raw and heartbreaking.”

By John Jolliffe, 01 MAR 2007

“Her well-written book is partly biography, partly family background, and partly a spirited travelogue in search of those who had known or known of her grandmother, and of the various places where the family had lived… never a dull page.”

29 FEB 2007

“From being in a princess in St Petersburg on first name terms with the Romanovs, to ending her days a committed Communist in a damp cottage in the West Country, Sofka Dolgorouky lived quite some life… Fascinating though the palaces and pearls are, what is truly engrossing is the resilience and sense of self of this willful princess who thought nothing of upsetting the Establishment until her dying day. This will have you gripped as if you were in the pages of a novel.”

By William Charlton, 17 FEB 2007

“Few twentieth-century women can have had more interesting lives than the Communist Princess Sofka Dolgorouky… Sofka’s life has found a perfect chronicler. Her granddaughter Sofka Zinovieff… She presents her material with such smooth skill that this intelligent book is a very easy read”