"Echoes of a Native Land," by Serge Schmemann. Knopf. 350...

Book Brief

January 04, 1998|By Owen McNally | Owen McNally,The Hartford Courant

"Echoes of a Native Land," by Serge Schmemann. Knopf. 350 pages. $27.50.

Monumental historical events like the Russian Revolution can be staggeringly difficult to imagine on the printed page - unless you're reading a writer who can create the feeling of how people lived their daily lives, what they thought and held sacred, what they ate and drank, how they worked, mourned and celebrated, what they loved, loathed and feared.

Serge Schmemann creates exactly this sort of stimulating ambiance in "Echoes of a Native Land," his passionate history of the estate his mother's family owned for generations before the revolution. His ancestors thrived as provincial, God-fearing, tsar-loving gentry, until the revolution of 1917 uprooted them from their property and privilege, scattering them to the wind.

By focusing on the minutiae of their lives - including soap-operatic ventures in love, war and counter-revolution - he restores a degree of humanity to this gentrified class, swept up ++ into the Marxist dustbin of history as "enemies of the people."

Pub Date: 1/04/98

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