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Journey Into the Mind's Eye based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
This book is a sort of memoir - the subtitle is "Fragments of an autobiography" - but one filtered entirely through the author's obsession with Russia. Her first marriage, for example, is dismissed in a sentence, noting only that her husband had no connections with Russia.The first part of the book deals with her childhood, and in particular a friend of her parents - a Russian who she calls only The Traveller, larger-than-life, mysterious, highly charismatic and full of glamorously romantic stories about his homeland. She is devoted to and dazzled by him and resolves to learn everything she can about Russia - and especially Siberia. This section of the book is extremely funny, as she tries to mesh her obsessions with daily life in an upper-class English household in the 1920s. She goes through a phase of putting butter in her tea, and at one point refuses a slice of watermelon, telling her parents how in some Russian villages it was considered unlucky because it looked like the severed head of John the Baptist. Of course, even in the 1920s the image of Russia that she was cherishing was already a lost world. And when Lesley grows up, and the Traveller leaves her life, the twin obstacles of Soviet bureaucracy and her lack of finances prevent her from trying to travel to her heart's homeland - even when she makes it to Russia, Siberia is a step too far. This section of the book is, inevitably, less interesting, and is not quite redeemed even when she makes the long-awaited Trans-Siberian voyage.Sample: 'Every woman should marry three times' had been one of his dictums, which he often impressed on me. 'Marry first for love - get it out of your system - next for money - get that into your pocket and then marry for pleasure, which has nothing whatever to do with love or money'. At the time I thought this a puzzling statement, but in perspective, I see it contains much truth.Recommended for: the first part of the book would be enjoyed by anyone who likes eccentric period childhoods, such as that of the Mitfords (who were apparently acquaintances of hers), or who likes tall traveller's tales. The second part, probably only by those with a keen interest in either Russia or monomania.