Out now: My Cossack Family - and other remarkable people in Russia and Ukraine
By Caroline Walton. Sirin books May 2019
“Where there was the holodomor, there was my grandfather-in-law Petro who forgave everything. Where there was the gulag, there were people such as de Beausobre who made it her personal Calvary. And where there was the most terrible siege in human history, there were people who sang Ode to Joy to their Nazi besiegers.”
During three decades of visiting Russia and Ukraine, Caroline Walton met some exceptional women and men, people who had known famine, war and nuclear disaster. Each of them underwent a process of transformation, and in doing so they transcended their circumstances in ways that were little short of miraculous. From a village wisewoman to survivors of the siege of Leningrad and the Chernobyl disaster, to the family she married into, they helped Caroline transform her own western-centric world view.
A wonderful combination of meticulous research and wide personal experience. Caroline Walton has met so many extraordinary people in Russia and Ukraine who have developed their cultures’ spirituality to survive the impossible. Dr Mary Hobson, Pushkin Medal winner.
Caroline Walton’s love for this part of the world began with her teenage reading of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. She visited the Soviet Union twice before its collapse and in 1992 she went to live in Samara, Russia. Later she travelled to Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev and the Crimea. She has written several books on Russia and the USSR (including The Besieged and Smashed in the USSR). She lives in London where she also works as a Russian to English literary translator. Caroline is married to a Ukrainian-Russian of Cossack descent.
"A fascinating read for anyone with an interest in people, the history of the Soviet Union, and in faith healing and spirituality… an insight into a wealth of people with rich and often tragic lives, who have overcome enormous odds and who are not afraid to be different, even eccentric… Through the fascinating accounts of the people she has met, you learn about the human effects of forced collectivisation in Ukraine and Southern Russia, the repressions during the thirties and the deportations of suspected Nazi collaborators during World War II. We read about the cruel siege of Leningrad by the Nazis in WWII and the tenacity and grit of the survivors. We learn about what it was like at Chernobyl after the 1986 nuclear accident… The indomitable human spirit shines through the many adversities described by Walton’s relatives and acquaintances."
Review by Kate clark in the Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies digest
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