THE ADMIRAL'S DAUGHTER by Victoria & Haskel Frankel Fyodorova
Kirkus Star


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Wartime romance, the grimmest of Stalinist nightmares, a dream. . . . And the tears you shed are free. The rest hit the papers four years ago when Victoria Fyodorova, conceived in Moscow on V-E Day by Russian actress Zoya Fyodorova and a U.S. Navy officer, met her father for the first time. Haskel Frankel mass-markets the love story in short declarative sentences, often in dialogue form, but authentic particulars--Captain Tate bartering American cigarettes for wine--line the clich‚s: ""The wine had begun to sour. . . . Zoya thought to herself, it is an omen."" Abruptly, she was sent on a tour and Tate was expelled from Russia; he wasn't to learn until 1963 that Zoya gave birth to a daughter. Zoya, meanwhile, became aware that the NKVD was watching her but felt shielded by her national popularity; she transferred her love for Tate to Victoria only to lose her too, however, when Stalin's long ann knocked again. Zoya was swept to Lubyanka for mind-breaking interrogation and later imprisoned at Vladimir: Frankers account of her experiences is a horror story, reportedly reconstructed from Victoria's diary-record of Zoya's own retrospective chronicle; accurate or not, it jibes too well with the Stalinist litany to merit serious challenge. Zoya's punishment for the here-imaginary crime of ringleading a gang of spies and assassins extended to her family: sister Alexandra, ""Mama"" to Victoria, saw to their survival throughout a lonely, hungry exile in Kazakhstan, whose salient sadnesses Victoria catalogues in separate passages. Frankers heart seems to be with Zoya: her release (on Khrushchev's accession) and eventual reunion with ""Vikka"" are his climax and denouement. Not, though, the end: he mechanically follows the film career, marriages, and hideous father-figure affair that precede Victoria's Florida visit with Admiral Tate--itself cacophonously orchestrated by Irina Kirk, who found him for the Fyodorovas and shepherded them through the Soviet obstacle-course, and the National Enquirer (intent on an exclusive). Frankel wavers in the journalist-role, playing psychologist, apologist, and arbiter before closing, and he never quite closes in--nor does Victoria, whose first-person interludes start to lose force somewhere past Kazakhstan. And somewhere, too, there's more to be told.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1979
Publisher: Delacorte