Echoes of a Native Land: Two Centuries of a Russian Village

Serge Schmemann, Author Alfred A. Knopf $27.5 (384p) ISBN 978-0-679-43810-6
Writing on a scale that encompasses an imperial ball and the last lowering of the Soviet flag over the Kremlin, Schmemann has produced a saga of majestic proportions. Researching his Russian ancestry, the former Moscow bureau chief for the New York Times made many visits to the village of Sergiyevskoye (now named Koltsovo), 90 miles south of Moscow, onetime county seat of his mother's family, the Osorgins. The manor house has long since burned down, but elderly villagers remember the family, either firsthand or by legend, and Schmemann found sufficient documents in archives to satisfy himself, and his readers, about the integrity of his reconstruction. Sergiyevskoye is described as a ""spiritual sanatorium"" in the diary of one visitor to the manse the family was ordered to vacate by the local Bolsheviks in 1918. Ultimately, the Osorgins settled in Paris in 1931, where the author's parents met. The family bought the estate in 1843 and, never indolent, filled various civic posts; the author's great-grandfather Mikhail Mikhalych, for example, was governor of Tula, and other relatives served in the Guards at the Imperial Court. Reclaiming his family, Schmemann relates the history of Russia as well, czarist and communist. That a descendant of Sergiyevskoye should become its historian provides a certain symmetry to these pages, and echoes Pushkin: ""It smells of Russia here."" Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-679-75707-8
Open Ebook - 294 pages - 978-0-307-76631-1
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