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The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood Paperback – 4 Feb 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; Reprint edition (4 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845965736
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845965730
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"An exceptionally moving and beautiful account" (Sunday Telegraph)

"There is no other autobiography quite like it" (Contemporary Review)

Book Description

A compelling account of life in Russia before, during and immediately after the Revolution

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A. Hope on 11 April 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating and immensely readable memoir. Eugenie Fraser - born Evgeniya Scholts in Archangel Russia in 1906 the eldest child of Russian father and Scottish mother reveals a world now consigned to history books. Samovars, wolves, sledges piled high with furs and packages rushing through the artic winter, women bathing naked in the river unobserved and unmolested, are just a few of the images that this book leaves the reader with. The realities of war and revolution are described with a sort of childlike matter of factness that is horribly poignant. The House by the Dvina is beautifully recounted story of an unusual family.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Margaret on 21 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
I have read and reread this delightful book and it is one of my favourites. It's the kind of book that weaves a spell around you and somehow touches a deeply nostalgic chord within--the sort of book that makes you feel somewhat bereft when it ends! I have recommended it to so many others who have also loved it and passed it on in their turn--my mother, my sister, and many friends and acquaintances. It seems to appeal to such a diversity of people of all ages. (Another enchanting book that has this quality is Seal Morning) One friend reads it every winter, relishing every detail of the epic sledge journey to St Peterburg to petition the Tsar, the safe homecoming and the blissful restorative powers of the banya, the traditional Russian bath. (This is one of my favourite episodes too). The book is not particularly well written (the author is obviously not a professional writer), but because she has an endlessly fascinating story to tell and conveys such a genuine, deep love of her childhood, any shortcomings in her writing style are more than compensated for. This wonderful book provides an extraordinary window into the life of a Russian family whose world was abruptly swept away by the Revolution. One feels the tension of the gathering storm of unrest, brutality and destruction, and longs for the spell not to be broken-- one would like to sit for a moment longer in the circle of warm light around the samovar, in the cosy, peaceful room with the little lamp flickering before the icon, and take refuge from the darkness and the inhospitable cold and ice of the Arctic winter. Highly recommended!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sofia on 3 May 2009
Format: Paperback
'The House by the Dvina' tells of the childhood of Evgeniya Sholts (as Eugenie Fraser was then) and the experiences of her extended family in Archangel, Russia, before, during and immediately after the Bolshevik revolution.

While the basic history of the Russian revolution is familiar, what makes this account so compelling is that it is so very personal, focusing on one family's experience. Fascinating too is that this is set in Archangel - a remote far northern town about which less is written.

Fraser writes with immense warmth and detail, recalling the traditional foods and ceremonies of a bygone age. Off the page leaps a world filled with troikas, wolves, frozen rivers, ice breakers, Orthodox iconography, mushroom pickers, wet nurses, balalaikas and long, arduous journeys. Fraser writes with a childlike acceptance of all that happened around her, but some of the tales she has to tell are truly amazing, including her Grandmother's epic journey to plead with the Tsar for her husband; her Scottish mother's relatively simple decision to marry a Russian man and move to a country completely alien to her; and the fates of her various relatives once the 1920s begin.

This is a compelling read and as non-fiction is not racy or over-dramatised. Fraser brings to life a world gone forever and does so with genuine love for her native land. Hers was an extraordinary childhood and hers a valuable record of an astonishing era in history. I really recommend this book and not just to all those with an interest in history: this holds its own as a really poignant family saga.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Hooker on 12 May 2008
Format: Paperback
This memoir of the author's childhood in faraway Archangel is entertaining, funny, tragic and uplifing. It really transports you to a whole new world and brings pre-revolutionary Russia to life. I was amazed at how cosmopolitan the city of Archangel was in those times, and inspired at how the trade links criss-crossing the North and White Seas blossomed into a Scottish-Russian union that united families on opposite ends of Europe. The author was lucky to have had such a wonderful childhood and I am glad she decided to write this book to share her story with us.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 19 May 2003
Format: Paperback
I was recommended to read this book, firstly because it involves Dundee and secondly because it is an amazing story, made more so by the fact that it is non-fiction.
Eugenie Fraser takes us through the years leading up to the revolution in Russia and beyond. She details the family and Russain traditions that were so important in the 19th century and early 20th century. She weaves a picture of her family both Russian and Scottish and how they interact.
You read of acts of bravery that should only be in a work of fiction such as her pregnant grandmother being taken by sledge to plead for the life of her husband.
It is very difficult to put into words a discription of this book, all I would say is read it - I guarentee that you will love it.
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