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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tsarist and Revolutionary Russia brought to life, 3 May 2009
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This review is from: The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood (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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