THE INTIMATE DIARY OF A RUSSIAN WOMAN by Elena Romine

THE INTIMATE DIARY OF A RUSSIAN WOMAN

My Search for Meaning in the Midst of My Country's Upheaval
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 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 16th, 1992
ISBN: 0-688-10416-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992