THE HOUSE BY THE DVINA: A Russian Childhood by Eugenie Fraser

THE HOUSE BY THE DVINA: A Russian Childhood

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A flatly precise, uninspired recollection of a Russian childhood before the Revolution. Fraser grew up in Archangel with her father's family until political circumstancesforced their departure for Scotland, her mother's homeland. Theirs had been a comfortable bourgeois life, which she reconstructs in abundant detail: holiday celebrations, plenty of sweets and finery, men ""skating"" to polish the parquet floors. But poor business judgment changed both their economic stability and the balance in her parents' marriage; WW I narrowed even more the supply of commodities and good times; and then the Revolution put an end to all hopes for a reversal of fortune. Fraser has a remarkable memory for the events and conversations of the past, and she clearly mourns what was lost to her, especially her grandparents, who suffered a kind of internal exile, and her father, a sclerosis victim, who could not accompany them to Scotland. Occasionally she lets those lingering resentments erupt, referring to the Bolshevik leaders as ""sadistic thugs"" or to ""the satanic activities of the all-consuming Kremlin monster"" and ""the demonic reign of the Georgian maniac."" (Moreover, there's an utterly objectionable reference to ""the small yellow men"" who fought ""the Russian colossus"" in 1905.) Mostly, though, this is a proud and detailed recall of life around the samovar, a deep appreciation of Russian customs with little political consciousness in evidence.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1987
ISBN: 1845965736
Publisher: Walker