Edith Sollohub was the daughter of a high ranking Russian diplomat, living in luxury on a large estate in St Petersburg. Her lavish lifestyle was brought to a halt by the Russian Revolution of 1917. Edith was separated from her family and had to endure imprisonment, hunger and loneliness. The Russian Countess is her memoir, giving detailed descriptions of her life as a child and her miraculous story of survival through the hardships of War.
I don’t read many memoirs, but the true story of a Russian Countess forced into unimaginable hardship really appealed to me – I find discovering how real people cope with a tradegy a fascinating subject.
The book was packed with photographs and documents which enriched the reading experience for me. It was lovely to see her family growing up!
The pace of the book was very slow. The story sometimes got lost as every person and tiny event was described. It was beautifully written, but at times I found the wordiness and intricate details too much.
Edith’s early life on the estate bored me. Stories of parties, dance lessons and numerous hunting trips held little interest for me. Her fascination with guns was especially alien to me and I often found my mind wandering from the page when she started shooting furry things.
The book improved as things started to go wrong for her:
I loved learning about this period of history and was amazed at the real life coincidences that led to Edith’s survival. Truth sometimes is stranger than fiction!
If you are interested in Russian history then this is a valuable resource. The small details in this book are the sort that get lost over the years and so it is great that these memoirs have been preserved and published after all this time, but I do think this book might be too specialised for the average reader.