By Suzanne Ruta
Updated September 27, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

Happy first families are all alike, Tolstoy would have said if he’d read this pioneering Soviet foray into a quintessentially American genre, the political puff memoir. Like Pat Nixon, Raisa Gorbachev is proud of her cloth coat. Like Barbara Bush, she dotes on her grandchildren and enjoys reading aloud. Like Nancy Reagan, she has heard of astrology (Raisa is a Capricorn, Gorby a Pisces). Like Jackie, she’s popular with the French. The moral earnestness, however, the taste for high-minded platitudes — these qualities are uniquely hers, the marks of a good Soviet education. It jars to hear her champion glasnost in the Pollyannaish tones of officially sanctioned prose. The last chapters of I Hope are more honest. Hindsight lends pathos to her defense of her husband’s attachment to old-time party pals. What’s wrong with that? she insists, in this series of interviews completed in April ’91. Isn’t loyalty to friends the moral position? Clearly her next book is the one we’re waiting for. C+

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