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4.6 out of 5 stars
The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
To be honest if it hadn't been for my local book group I would never have come across this book, or have read it. However I am glad that I have now done so. Eugenie Fraser writes with such elegance, bringing places alive as well as people that this in some ways feels like a novel. She writes about her parents first meeting and other subjects before her time and brings them to life with her writing, rather than just putting down the bare facts.

Born of a Scottish mother and a Russian father, Eugenie grew up mainly in Russia for the first fifteen years of her life. With trips to Scotland, the trials and tribulations of her parents and other relatives we can see how Russia changed between 1905-1920. Brought up in a well off family, life starts off rather happy and fun for the young girl, but of course things change with the First World War, and then the Bolshevik Revolution.

With her younger brother and her mother, these three people manage to leave Russia and live with the Scottish side of the family at the end of this memoir, and with the way things were in Russia then, they lost contact with that side of the family.

Written more like a Russian novel than a simple memoir this book really brings to life Eugenie's childhood, and how Russia was for her, growing up. Definitely a book to consider if you wish to know what Russia was like for the middle classes in the early years of the 20th Century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 19 August 2009
What can I say that hasn't been written previously. What a wonderful book. It is just so hard to imagine the changes that Russia went through towards the end and immediately after the First World War. I have read books on the subject but to read an actual account of events first hand was just too poignant for words. Eugenie's childhood spent in the arctic regions of Archangel are wonderfully descriptive, you can smell the onset of spring and feel the absolute chill of winter. Her childhood was happy and that comes through in the book so well. It is only doubly sad when, one by one, the family has to break up, through no fault of their own, to make new lives for themselves or to just exist. Thoroughly recommended reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2009
Eugenie Fraser's Mother was Scottish - but her Father was Russian. As a result, she was born, and lived in, Archangel, but had many long holidays in St. Andrews.

She was 13 when the Revolution began, and simply but movingly describes the gradual dissolution of her lifestyle. She, her Mother and Brother managed to escape to Scotland in 1923 - and there the book ends.

She gives us her family background in loving - and fascinating - detail; she tells us many anecdotes, and describes vividly the Russian way of life, as well as the bitterly cold winters.

I found that I couldn't put the book down. I know that I will read and re-read it with great pleasure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2013
Although a great deal of this book was interesting, I found it somewhat repetitive in detail. There are only so many meals and descriptions one can take.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2003
What a wonderful book and what a wonderful story. In this book Eugenie Fraser manages to convey the life of her Scottish and Russian families in a very personal way.
She takes you from the very beginnings of her families history, her parents first meeting each other through to the revolution in Russian and beyond.
I would highly recommend this book, it is very interesting from a historical perspective but also from the struggles of a family during a very turbulent time.
You do not need any prior knowledge of the Russian revolution, although I will say some of the Russian names are a bit tricky!
Hope you enjoy this book, I am sure you will.
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This is a beautifully written book with wonderful descriptions of scenery and occasions so you feel part of it all. We read it in the bookclub and 9 out of 10 of us loved it . Our only criticism was the family tree. It was impossible to follow and understand. A good family tree would be invaluable particularly if enlarged for the kindle.
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on 20 May 2013
Perfect for holiday reading, not demanding, but at the same time quite informative about a relatively recent period in British history, that i knew little.
Co-incidentally, I was in the Loch Ewe area in N W Scotland, from where the Artic Convoys gathered before sailing for Murmansk, with relief supplies, in the second World War.
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on 17 April 2013
Fascinating saga full of interesting customs and way of life, now lost.I found the names, mixed with nicknames a little difficult ,even with the help referring to the family tree.The rich,descriptive narrative makes it a delightful read..
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Some very flattering reviews here but it's supposed to be a "true story". Has anyone questioned its historical accuracy? I'm not certain that at least one of these events could actually have happened.
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on 18 February 2014
I was entranced by this book. I come from the same area of Scotland, and marvel at the experiences that the author and her family lived through. It was beautifully written and begs to be made into a film.
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