Mstation Book Reviews
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Mon, 01 Sep 2008

Ninachka: the making of an Englishwoman

Nina Murray ed. Jay Underwood, Ninachka: the making of an Englishwoman?, Hamilton Books

As the writer, Princess Shcheyteenin, is my Godmother, and is also 95 years old, I'm not very likely to be critical in my summary of this work which starts with pre-revolutionary Russia, and then moves on to England, where most of the rest of the story occurs including the days of WWII.

It is quite a gruelling journey as well: deprivation, reduced circumstances, murder, and unexpected deaths pepper the story at regular intervals. But, as well as this, it is inspirational in that the writer became a doctor and an eye surgeon and a well-respected member of the communities she lived in - that this was done at all, let alone with a background of some personal tragedy, was quite a feat of human endurance.

Personal histories tend to flesh out our knowledge of times past in a deeply interesting way and here we have knowledge of the flight of the Russian aristocracy and of their assimilation into other countries as well as some experience of WWII in England at a very human level of personal relationships and movement. (Baron K)

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