Anna, Anna China, Anna Sarkin discussed on The Guardian Books Podcast

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In this episode talking true crime one of the fosters growing genres in publishing podcasting and media right now this week i speak to rachel true deluge williams about her new book my friend anna rachel i met anna sarkin then known as an adobe in two thousand sixteen like many who travelled in manhattan in high society rachel that this ought demanding german heiress was just another rich socialite from europe making the best of the luxuries new york had to offer this shia and a story made headlines around the world when it was revealed that she was not actually a german heiress but a regular woman from russia who defrauded banks of hundreds of thousands of dollars to assume the fake identity in april anna was found guilty of grand larceny and was sentenced to four to twelve years in prison her former friend rachel came into the studio recently and began and by reading an extract from my friend anna you are here to read about anna dalvi an i don't blame you i to found her charming while we were friends. It's the best villains are the ones. You can't help liking despite their malevolence. That was anna's power. I liked her so much that it took me six months to realize allies. My dear friend was a con artist. The truth was right under my nose from the outside. Looking in people may think they comprehend the story of my friendship with anna china. It may seem easy to resume my motivations or assign blame based on stories in the news but nothing about what i went through with anna was simple by telling my story here and all of its detail. I hope people will come to better understand what it was really like to live through this experience ultimately i. I believe that it's natural to want to trust people. I'm not sorry about that. Having this impulsive doesn't make a person stupid or naive it makes her human in in my opinion. It's a mark of good fortune not to have developed type of cynicism that comes with so called street smarts. If you'd asked me before i met anna. I wouldn't have thought i lacked this type of common sense. I was skeptical of strangers suspicious of new people but i didn't see anna coming. She he slipped through my filters. You read about those characters in books. You see them in movies but you don't expect to meet one in real life. You don't think it's going to happen. I've been to you. If you haven't yet had the experience i can tell you. It is deeply unsettling to learn that someone you care about a person you think you know. Well is an illusion it messes with your head. You replayed the scenes. The words the implied understandings you pick them apart. You hold each bit up to the late and ask what if any truth it contains regret isn't unproductive emotion. What's done is done. All any of us can do is choose how to react in each moment informed by the past. We decide how to move forward. I don't have regrets but i can see how this happened and and there is something to be learned from that. I say something which is vague because what i learned seems to evolve and expand with time. I've processed this ordeal l. in waves privately and publicly looking back on different parts. I feel a long way from myself from the way i used to be. This is my story right showed aletsch williams. Thank you very much coming on the guardian books podcast. Thank you so much for having me now. If people get anxious about money matters and i'm sort of one of those people this book he's one of the most unsettling and anxiety inducing books. I think you can you can you can you look back on the time that you need. <hes> and he's an amazing actually that it's only three years ago that you met her anna sorkin on anna delhvi. She's got these two names. Do you think you can pinpoint in the moment now with hindsight on site. When you started syncing that something was wrong yes and no you know i think i can look back on the friendship and reflect on instances where i made a choice to rationalize behavior that maybe didn't jive with my values or the way i operate so she could be rude or entitled then i would think of excuses for her without her even having to say anything you know oh maybe no one taught her manners and the way that my parents did x._y._z. But but it wasn't until long after our chip to marrakesh when i really started to question her identity and the way that she was presenting herself to the world took a trip to our cash that she offered to pay for their money went to this lovely sounding riyadh which was very expensive her credit cards declined and so she asked you to step in as a temporary remeasure and you're reassured that she was going to pay you back and then over the coming months became very apparent that this girl that seemed like this german socialite rich sh- young woman actually possibly didn't have any money at all and you sort of acknowledging that preface that you read that of course people are going to be interested in her and you very in one of the earliest parts that anna was an odd ball twenty six year old fashioned hof foreign and i mean not intrinsically as an anna how to quality that marked has other as outlandish as strange. Can you sort of outline that was. Did you think now that you've noticed that she was possibly sociopathic. Yes that's exactly exactly what i was going to say. Actually i think there was this quality that i couldn't put my finger on. It's what kept me watching. It's i also think part of her charm to the broader our world who's now paying attention to her the way she operates in her own world and her own system her own she she makes up her own rules. She does what she wants. I i still can't quite define it but i think you're right to say that that is part of a sociopaths charm where you can't quite identify what it is but there's something about them that you find transfixed sing and and you kind of get pulled in kind of like a flies apper is and at the time you first met her. You were working at body so you had some exposure to the glitzy side of new york's unit. You knew how these things advocated but it's so interesting now to think in hindsight that she was also an outsider to that world but there was a sort of intrinsic quality cheer an air that she had somehow developed that meant that people met her and just assumed absolutely of course she's in this world doesn't sort of amaze you now that you know she's just a big as bay outsider as you're to that world but she was able to convince everyone that she does have to be the yes <hes> and also no i i think even when i was friends with anna she did seem much like a loner. You know she. I think it's kind of funny in the way that she's been portrayed after this experience when we she's been outed as a con artist looking back there seems to be sort of mischaracterization of her as somebody who was out on the town. Everybody knew her like living this lavish lifestyle. It's it's true. She lived a decadent lifestyle but it's mostly just because she lived in a hotel but she rarely left that hotel and in the time when i was friends with her i really thought i was her only only friend and aside from the staff in this hotel where she lived so and it's funny people i i've now been accused of social climbing through anna but it's so backwards because iraq did vanity fair have wonderful friends. I loved my job and i feel in hindsight like she was using me to sort of access that world or to see how somebody in that world behaved and it's interesting having read other accounts <hes> aside from your own defense ceremony stories about this case one of the the members of staff at the hotel where she was based made note that she realized afterwards that these lavish tips she was getting from anna was was not because she was being generous. Who's buying that time <hes> because she was lonely yeah i think that's true and i think a lot of of anna's generosity maybe stemmed from the fact that i think she enjoyed being able to be the person who could be generous and she wanted to be liked and i certainly we don't wanna fault somebody for being generous but i think as far as the way she operates in the world. It is fundamentally self-serving. I think even her generosity had to do with its usefulness and you say in the book you ended up even developing bad habits when you're hanging out with her drinking a lot more zipping in a lot more things you still sort of talk about her like she wasn't appealing person to be without a certain point. Yeah i liked her. I was friends with her because i liked her. I wouldn't you know have since been accused of hanging out with her because she paid for things but we ate in the same place every night. That's not fine like i was there because i enjoyed spending time with her. You know i appreciated her. Generosity new york probably much in london as a place where you have friends who have more money than you. You have friends who have less money than you. She made it seem so casual and easy and she was so nonchalant about saying. I got you like i know how much money you make. She actually laughed and you you know in an in an example of me rationalizing her behavior her laughter at my annual salary. I listened i i was kind of bruised and offended and and then i thought about it and it was like well now that you mentioned in i do feel underpaid so i kind of even occur laughter as being supportive. When of course i'm sure it wasn't. I don't even yeah right. It's such an interesting idea because she had this great capacity for being really rude thoughtless but there's this attitude the cheetah's well amongst. I guess it a lot of the people that are now have been reflecting on anna people have met her that that's kind of excusable for the super rich that they're all pops a little bit like that. There are a little bit thoughtless of course they forgot the credit card. Yeah it so not excuses not to take away <hes> but you know it was believable say dot fresher but as you say we could justify that behavior by thinking law she's never had to worry about monthly bills and this is just the way that she cannot break because she has a safety net reading the book with hindsight the irony that became aware of honor of course when the case started and reported stuttered reporting back from what from the courtroom room that i truly struggled throughout to find anything appealing about about hannah but is there anything that you consider think back in back on and think that was actually just a genuine an moment yeah i can and and when i catch myself doing that i have to remind me. It's easy for me to fall back into this place where i feel sorry for her or i i. I think she's going to change and i have to really monitor myself in that way but i really liked. Anna was fine and she was smart. She we had this grand idea for this art foundation that on paper or when she would talk about it actually sounded very impressive and like cool idea. I mean many of those places exist so it's not that unique but she would talk about doing these experiential events where she would pull in an artist to collaborate with chef and then she had a way of describing in the world that made you sit there unless i really just enjoyed that that she wanted to share these things with me and that she i felt like i was someone that she was able able to be close to and i i felt that she isolated herself so i took pride and being like there for her and and being a close friend and so this allen dovy foundation which is the main project that she's talking about..

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