Monday, November 13, 2017

The Russian Countess by Edith Sollohub

The Russian Countess is an autobiography of Countess Edith Sollohub, born Edith Natalie de Martens. She was born and raised in Pre-Communist Russia and was unfortunately trapped in Russia after the revolution. This autobiography focuses on her life before the revolution and how she did her best to survive and escape after.

My first surprise came when I read the introduction of the book and found that it was written in English. I had assumed that this was translated, and to be honest if I didn't know that it was written in English, I would have assumed it was a very well-done translation because the English was really natural.

The second surprise was of her experience during the revolution. I don't know what I expected, but whatever I read was a surprise. Perhaps the fact that she wasn't put in jail immediately surprised me. Or perhaps it was because of how little the spirit of communism seemed to be in everyone. I had this image that most people wanted to become communist, but the book made it seem like most people were indifferent to it, or at best using it opportunistically.

Although this book provides a fascinating look into what it was like to live through revolutionary Russia, I do think that it doesn't provide a whole picture. Edith was supported in large part by her servants, who were still faithful to her. In fact, another thing that surprised me was that even after the revolution, she managed to keep a governess for her boys and her first escape was with a few servants. Certainly not the number she used to have, but it was definitely not zero. I think life for an ordinary person or even a person of nobility who was not well-liked would have been very different.

Not that I'm saying that this book isn't worth reading. Far from it. I really enjoyed reading it and I am in awe of how talented and resourceful Edith was. I just realised that I have to be careful not to take one person's account and assume that it applies to everyone living through that event.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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