In a memoir redolent of storied Russiasteaming samovars and frigid sledge-rides, the scent of white birch logs burning in the fireplace, festive religious holidays and balalaika musicFraser recreates the twilight of Tsarist days, the revolution and civil war. This daughter of the merchant class, born in 1906, grew into her teens in Archangel, with frequent visits to and from her maternal Scottish grandparents. The author's Russkaya dusha, or Russian soul, emerges so palpably that although she has lived in Scotland (with a period in India) since she emigrated in 1920, her nostalgia is clearly, exclusively, for all things Russian. Her tale is peopled with myriad relatives, servants and townfolk; with the ghostly presences of her father (who died in 1928 and whom she last saw when she, her mother and brother escaped by ship to Murmansk), and babushka and dedushka, her paternal grandparents sent into exile by the revolution. The memory of her lamented home by the Dvina, Archangel's river, grips Fraser, and will the reader as well. Photos not seen by PW. (November l6)
Child of a Russian father and a Scottish mother, Fraser reassembles her earliest memories of life in Archangel during the years 1912 to 1920. She fleshes out her story with a considerable amount of ancestor worship coupled with some rather melodramatic (and ``tsarist'') discourses on Russian history. The book possesses a nostalgic picture postcard quality; it contains rather predictable descriptive nuggets on various aspects of life in old Russiathe bath house, the sleigh ride, the Easter candlesthough Fraser's first-hand experiences during the Revolution and the Allied intervention are interesting, albeit rigorously doctrinal. For large public libraries. Mark R. Yerburgh, Trinity Coll. Lib., Burlington, Vt.