THE INTIMATE DIARY OF A RUSSIAN WOMAN

MY SEARCH FOR MEANING IN THE MIDST OF MY COUNTRY'S UPHEAVAL

The dying days of Communism—as observed by Russian ÇmigrÇ Romine, whose anecdotal but perceptive account traces the pervasive disaffection, cynicism, and mixed emotions that marked that dramatic time. Relatively privileged by Soviet standards, 30-ish and divorced Romine, a former Intourist guide and teacher who'd obtained her Ph.D. in philology, had been able to travel quite widely before the advent of Gorbachev—but always under official auspices. Perestroika now meant that she could go alone; this journal begins with a trip to Munich in 1988 and recollections of others, and ends with her departure for her first visit to the US. These journeys, like so much else within the Soviet Union, required tireless persistence, great humor, and numerous useful friends—Romine quotes an old Russian saying, ``Better to have a hundred friends than a hundred roubles,'' especially in a country where money has lost its significance. It is a land where colleagues come to work not to teach but to arrange shopping forays, eat the cafeteria food, and socialize; where a friend, suffering from insomnia and sent to recover in a real ``Psycho Ward,'' is tempted to stay because he ``felt almost like a free man in a free society.'' It is also a country in which fear perverts the closest of friendships, as revealed when Romine describes a visit shamefacedly made to Andrei Sakharov, a beloved friend of her late father's, to apologize for his silence during Sakharov's troubles. Yet Romine's feelings are ambivalent, and often despairing, as she also notes her close family ties and warm friendships, and the strong appeal of Russian culture—though not strong enough to keep her from moving to southern California. One of those personal records, refreshingly idiosyncratic and frank, that does more to foster understanding than any number of more ponderous and ambitious studies.

Pub Date: July 16, 1992

ISBN: 0-688-10416-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1992

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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