The House by the Dvina by Eugenie Fraser

The House by the Dvina, A Russian Childhood by Eugenie Fraser

This is the most wonderful book describing the beauty of living in Old Russia during the author’s childhood. A fascinating insight into a beautiful era which is now lost.  The author’s parents were Scottish and Russian.  Her mother left Scotland as a young bride to live in Archangel, Russia with her husband.  The author was born in Russia.

Included in the story are relatives, friends and family and what a story it is! So beautiful initially with sometimes holidays also to Scotland.  The wonder of the fairyland of beauty during the winter when all was cold and still and the river froze over but yet there were incredible scenic delights and splendours.  Wonderful sleigh and reindeer rides, travelling on sledges and memorable Christmas and Easter celebrations.  Midnight Easter services with lighted candles and laden Easter tables with Easter eggs and wonderful delicacies.

However, this idyll was not to last as the Bolsheviks even came to Archangel eventually with their policies.

So many changes and disruptions to the families and people who had lived and worked all their lives in Russia.

The stories of the people are quite incredible and also beautiful. There is also wonderful romance and fascinating detail regarding life in Old Russia, even stories from the earlier generations, of a great-grand-father who married a serf and of long journeys through the snow.

There was the beauty of life by the River Dvina which was a source of much needed water, vital for washing and also wonderful during the summer time for bathing and boating.   A beautiful garden and summer houses and a house with balconies overlooking the river whereby could be seen the glow of the sunset at the end of a summer’s day.  This was the last the author saw of this beautiful house from a boat which crested a wave and she could see the house bathed in a beautiful sunset glow.

This book certainly is a book to think about afterwards. So much beauty and fascination within its pages and the tragedy of events for many of the characters in the story which finally followed are not revealed until the end of the book.

An excellent story and well recommended.


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