4.62 (8 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 176 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 25.4mm | 628.22g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Ill.
  • 0192713175
  • 9780192713179

Review Text

Young Mark (1968) was Miss Almedingen's great-great-grandfather, Katia (1967) her great-aunt; now, in a Tolstoyan sunset that presages personal emancipation, there is Aunt Frances de Poltoratzky, like Catherine Almedingen cosmopolitan by birth and upbringing and literary by inclination. Which of course is not at all the way little Fanny sees herself at Avchourina. Her christening is legendary (no immersion, no gold baptismal cross, because of her English mother), her regimen strict and her clothes simple despite her father's wealth; Mamma and Papa are saints, and Avchourina is - "such a long and difficult word" at three - a paradise. Then "The First Disappointments" - Moscow decorum, the Crimean War pitting Mamma's country against Papa's, "that vulgar Madame Volgina" who parts with a serf for an invitation to Avchourina. (Papa frees some of his periodically, finally releases them all rather than sell them.) With Miss Kelly, the Irish governess, comes poetry, candor, and the first intimation that "the day may come when your scribbling may turn to writing." Also, numbingly, the first death. Later there is Miss Jardine, so proper-British and so good at teaching. But Papa is away more and more and then, incomprehensibly, they're in Moscow in August! - soon to leave Russia because Papa, cheated by his overseer, has determined to pay the debts that were not his. In France, where he has fond friends and other money, they will find peace - and Fanny, enamoured of Paris, will find her true home and strongest theme, her Russian childhood. This is drawn from her memoirs and the recollections of her sister Helen, and while it hasn't quite the verve of Katia or an equivalent personal conflict, it brings a sweet, tart buoyancy to its unique background. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

8 ratings
4.62 out of 5 stars
5 62% (5)
4 38% (3)
3 0% (0)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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