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The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood
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The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  247 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
The riveting story of two families separated in culture and geography but bound together by a Russian-Scottish marriage includes the purchase by the author's great-grandfather of a peasant girl with whom he had fallen in love, the desperate sledge journey in the depths of winter made by her grandmother to intercede with Tsar Aleksandr II for her husband, the extraordinary ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by Transworld Publishers (first published October 9th 1984)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 01, 2009 Chrissie rated it it was amazing
Page 225: I really do love the book. Is it b/c I appreciate what Oscar has destroyed? I do not think so! I promise - this is my last quote:

"We spent several days in the convent..... In the refectory sttod long tables with stools placed around them. In the centre of the room, standing at a praying desk, a nun read passages from the Bible throughout the meal. The first course, I remember, was a rich fish soup known as "ukha", with pieces of the fuqh and potatoes floating in it. I might well have e
Dec 15, 2011 Dem rated it it was amazing
The house by the Dvina is a beautifully written memoir about two families separated in culture but bond together by a Russian-Scottish marriage.
Eugenie Fraser was brought up in Russia and this story recounts her early childhood in Russia. The story begins with the meeting of her parents in Scotland where her mother Nelly meets her father Gherman Scholts a young German Businessman on the street and they young couple fall in love, marry and return to Archangel, a port city near the Arctic Circle w
I can't say enough about this memoir. It has everything - an intense sense of place and time, an exotic locale, catastrophic events as well as detailed depictions of Russian culture (christenings, name days, Christmases, Easters, the food at these events, the way the household was run, etc.), also the comings and goings of a large extended family (with all their quirks and histories - in both Russia and Scotland) not to mention the household servants, and friends of the family.

As if that weren't
Sep 12, 2012 Bridget rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Little House on the Prairie, revolutionary Russia style. Lots of family members and family traditions and momentous events seen through a child's eyes, all made spellbinding by skillful storytelling and the exotic, far-off (by both time and distance) setting.

Reading this book, I was struck by the thought that Europe used to be a much smaller place, metaphorically speaking. The heads of state were all related to each other and Russian kids went to boarding school in Latvia and Helsinki was practi
Feb 02, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: Chrissie
Just arrived from Greece through BM.

A magnificent book by Eugenie Fraser who tell her autobiography in Russia during 1905 and 1920.

Her mother was Scottish and his father is Russian and they live in Archangel, Russia.

As historical background, the author describes the war with Germany, the Revolution, the murder of the Tsar, the withdrawal of the Allied Intervention and how Russian people tried to survive during the starvation period.

The sequel of this book is The Dvina Remains
Erma Odrach
Sep 06, 2009 Erma Odrach rated it it was amazing
This is an engaging memoir beginning with the years leading up to the Russian Revolution to 1920. It is set largely in Russia's Arctic town of Archangel. Because the author is half Russian and half Scottish, it is interesting to see how the two cultures interact. There are many interesting details about family and tradition and about war and revolution. The author has a very simple, matter-of-fact style which makes for easy, yet intriguing reading.
Apr 02, 2008 Ali rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating and immensely readable memoir. Eugenie Fraser - born Evgeniya Scholts in Archangel Russia in 1906 the eldest child of Russian father and Scottish mother reveals a world consigned to history books. Samovars, wolves, sledges piled high with furs and packages rushing through the artic winter, women bathing naked in the river unobserved and unmolested, are jst a few of the images that this book leaves the reader with. The realities of war and revolution are described with a sor ...more
Pam Walter
Apr 24, 2016 Pam Walter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The House on the Dvina is a delightful memoir written by Russian-Scottish Eugenie Fraser. Jenya was born in her father's home town of Archangel on the Dvina river. As is the Russian custom, Jenya's father Gherman Scholts, brought his new Scottish wife, Nelly, from her home in Broughty Ferry Scotland to live at his home in Archangel, in northwestern Russia. This book spans 1904 to 1920, and so includes the Russian Revolution (1914 to 1917). The extended family of mill owners, lives on an estate b ...more
Jun 10, 2009 Toni rated it it was amazing
I read this marvelous book years ago, but couldn't remember the name - it was in a previous edition (hardbound). The story of the author's childhood in the early years of the twentieth century. Eugenie Fraser grew up in the Archangel area of Russia along the Dvina River and spent periods of time at her mother's childhood home in Scotland. Excellent writing and historical perspective.
A wonderful and evocatively written book, with great character development, it centers around two families and life in the early 1900s, World War 1 and the Russian Revolution. It tells the story of the author growing up in Archangel, Russia, in a loving, warm and rich-in-tradition family. It gives the reader an amazing insight into what Russia was like back then – the fun, laughter and gaiety associated with a rich and comfortable lifestyle – at least for the author’s family, both Russian and Sc ...more
Mar 15, 2016 Elisa rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Beautiful description of northern Russia, it's people and by-gone lifestyle and costumes. For me, it lacked the emotional intensity that many situations deserve. For example, I wasn't grieved when the mother and two children leave Russia behind... I found it a tedious read and wishing to reach the end. On the positive, I learned a lot and this will be helpful in other books about Russia.
Apr 02, 2014 Alicia rated it it was amazing
Wow! I read and loved this memoir on our spring break vacation. With a daughter in Russia and a son in Ukraine, I wanted to learn more about daily life in old Russia. So this book was perfect for me.

Here's the book summary: "The riveting story of two families separated in culture and geography but bound together by a Russian-Scottish marriage includes the purchase by the author's great-grandfather of a peasant girl with whom he had fallen in love, the desperate sledge journey in the depths of w
☽ Moon Rose ☯
It is the story of one Russian girl robbed of her innocence at an early age, a story of survival in a time of turmoil from which even the memories are somewhat meant to be washed away by fate as most are brought six feet under in the silencing presence of their untimely death.

This memoir is Eugenie Fraser's way of living to tell the tale.
Rebecca Huston
A beautiful memoir, full of little joys, big events, and two families amid revolution, war and exile. The writing is excellent and stories will catch you by surprise. Very much recommended.

For the longer review, please go here:
Jun 17, 2007 Gemma rated it it was amazing
This book is a big part of the reason why I began studying Russian. I thought it was beautiful and evocative of a lost world at the time, although it seems kind of laboured when I browse through it now.
Jul 21, 2013 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a sucker for descriptive memoirs set in faraway lands, so I truly enjoyed this book. The author recounts her youth from early 1900's well through the Bolshevik revolution; she spent time living in both Russia (her father was Russian) and Scotland (her mother Scottish) during that time, but the book focuses on her Russian experiences.

She was born into a privileged family and enjoyed all sorts of lovely things, and I was struck by how generous her family was in the community. Pre-soviet Russia
Willy Schuyesmans
Feb 20, 2016 Willy Schuyesmans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nog eens een lekker ouderwets goed verteld verhaal, een autobiografie over een kind van een Russische vader en een Schotse moeder dat haar jeugd doorbrengt in Archangelsk en daar - na een rijkelijk onbezorgd kinderleven - in haar puberteit geconfronteerd wordt met oorlog en revolutie, waardoor de welgestelde familie alles verliest. Prachtig verteld, een boek dat je in één adem uitleest.
Maurice Frank
Dec 12, 2013 Maurice Frank rated it it was amazing
It spans 1879-1920, what it was like being a British emigre wife living in the Arctic of Tsarist Russia, Archangel. Lucky escape from the Bolsheviks at the end, and insight into how the old society confidently thought they would lose. Why did they make those rocky stagecoach rides and alarming sounding ice thaw river crossings? Seems a riskier culture than it needed to be, yet resourceful against the risks it took. At the Scottish end a local's simple yet hits you memory of the Tay Bridge disast ...more
Anne Alexander
Wonderful account of a childhood spent with a happy and close family that had an amazing history, and in a beautiful country in a time of extreme turmoil.
Jun 06, 2014 Duncan rated it really liked it
An absolute joy to read especially as the author is a relative of my wife's. A great personal history of a tragic period in Russian history
Apr 11, 2012 Shoshanah rated it really liked it
I read this book when it first came out in 1987 and began reading it in London, then finished it off whilst travelling around China. A rather bizarre backdrop for a story about a Russian child in Northern Russia. Having said that, I loved it and my American friend on the trains around China kept borrowing it which although annoying proves that it must be an appetising read as she kept coming back for more. Again, about people, and if you love Russia or things Russia, go for it. 25 years ago folk ...more
Dec 29, 2014 Collette rated it it was amazing
A beautiful memoir of a fairly privileged childhood in Russia just before and during the revolution. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Angela M
Aug 14, 2014 Angela M rated it liked it
3.5 if half stars were possible .
Nov 11, 2012 Marian rated it it was ok
I read this with an interval, probably due to an overkill of Russian literature. I doubt this book would be considered literature, since the author was part Russian, part British. But it is entertaining, also because it is entirely autobiographical. Until recently I did not know the Allied forces had landed near Murmansk and Archangel during part of World War I.
Lisa Bergin
Apr 14, 2011 Lisa Bergin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I really loved this book of the authors childhood at the beginning of the 20th Century up to the Russian revolution. She describes a lifestyle so different to now and conveys the horrors of what happened there so well. It is hard to imagine that this took place less than a hundred years ago. Would highly recommend this book.
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Brazilliant Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 24, 2013 Betty rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russia, memoir
A vivid memoir of childhood, culminating in a harrowing escape from Russia. According to the author's obituary, she wrote this when she was nearly 80 and it was published the next year to great acclaim. An unforgettable read especially for those interested in Russian history and the craft of memoir.
Louise Armstrong
I actually read her second book, A House by the Hooglie, but couldn't find it on database. Interesting glimpse of days gone by - most interesting element was her comment about trade in India (her husband worked in jute) and how their experience wasn't part of the Empire myth.
Sarah Jordan
Aug 03, 2010 Sarah Jordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-10-and-a-bit
Read this when I was quite ill and really enjoyed it. Enjoyed the view of this world through the eyes of a child. Interesting to see the two different cultures of Scotland and Archangel. Fascinating to imagine what it must have been like to live inside the Arctic Circle.
Rose Marie
Jul 20, 2015 Rose Marie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, but the only struggle I had with it were all the names and nicknames of different people in Eugenies life. I got lost with who was who. Apart from that, it was very interesting - Russia through the eyes and memories of a child.
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Around the World: House by the Dvina? 6 9 Jan 05, 2012 05:14PM  
Around the World: Russia - Chrissie recommends: The House by the Dvina 9 22 Sep 24, 2011 10:50PM  
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Eugenie Fraser was born in Archangel to a Russian father and a Scottish mother. After the family fled to Scotland, she was brought up in Broughty Ferry and later spent most of her life in India with her husband. She died in Edinburgh in 2002.
More about Eugenie Fraser...

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