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Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 141
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2005

September 29, 2011

Although I read several books while preparing for our Russia Revealed trip, there are two that stand out in my mind as my favorites.. 

The first is Elena Gorokhova's autobiography about growing up in St. Petersburg in the 1960's, "A Mountain of Crumbs." Her family members' daily lives, their constant struggle to have enough food, her observations on the myriad of governmental regulations, descriptions of her educational experiences......All of those were in my mind when I finally walked in the streets of St. Petersburg and thought about the lives that the people around me had experienced.  Elena beats her wings agains the faultiness of the Soviet system until she feels she has to get out, and we in the west are richer for having the chance to read this very well written account of her life in the Soviet Union.

Very different, and equally moving, was Debra Dean's novel "The Madonnas of Leningrad." Oddly enough, I had quickly scanned this book when it came out several years ago, and rejected it because one of its central themes was Alzheimer's.  It switches back and forth between the "present," where an elderly woman is in the early stages of that disease, and her experiences during  the war years.  I am so glad that I picked it up again. The fictional, but well researched, story deals with her life as a young woman during the Seige of Leningrad.  She is a tour guide in the Hermitage, in love with a soldier, and the Hermitage itself is almost like a character in the book. Reading this book made our own Hermitage visit so much more meaningful.

These books are pleasurable reading, not scholarly tomes.  I also loved the interesting, more scholarly works of Harrison Salisbury, and Robert and Suzann Massie's books about the imperial family, and those are very much worth your time. But the two books mentioned above are the ones that touched my heart, and the ones that stayed in my mind as we toured St. Petersburg.  If you are taking the Russia Revealed trip, or if you just want to read two interesting books about Russia, I highly recommend both of them.

Author: lynda.lohmeier

Joined: 4/20/2012
Posts: 2
Trips Taken: 1
Traveler Since: 2012

April 20, 2012

 I appreciate the suggestions.  I have picked up Rutherford's "Russka."  I haven't started it yet, but I do like his approach.  I discovered a few years ago how much one reads, before and during a trip, enriches the experience.  When visiting Stonehenge a few years ago, I made sure I finished "Tess" by Hardy at that sight.  It was great.  (I have also learned reading a novel that is very dependent on setting is unsettling when you are far from there.  On the same trip I was also rereading "Huck Finn" for teaching in the fall.  It was weird.) 

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2001

April 26, 2012

I'm coming "out of the closet" as a devoted reader of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series.  They take me right back to East Africa and my wonderful "Safari Serengeti" trip with OAT.   BTW, the 13th book in the series, "The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection" has just been published.  And there's this:  I love to see the books in my book case; the covers are almost like souvenirs. 

After my GCT "Christmas on the Seine" cruise (full disclosure:  I taken it twice and if I can just pursuade my David .....) I read every book I could find about Marie Antoinette ("Abundance" by Sena Jeter Naslund,  "Marie Antoinette: The Journey" by Antonia Fraser, "Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution" by Caroline Weber).  And if you're interested in Versailles, Sofia Coppola's movie "Marie Antoinette" was filmed there with unprecedented access. 

Reading can inspire travel; travel can inspire reading - Love That!


Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

April 26, 2012

Sealionlady--- I, too, LOVE the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. They have a rhythm and wisdom to them that is absolutely charming. I was thrilled when I went to Botswana and "secretly looked for" Mma Ramotswe and Mr. JLB Matekoni!!  :)  I am so glad to hear that a new one is published now!

I have not read much about Marie Antoinette, but I have been to Versailles and other areas of France, so I need to get busy reading some about her anyway!!

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2001

April 27, 2012

Today, at my local library used-book store I got lucky!  I found a lovely copy of "A Mountain of Crumbs" for only 50 cents.  Bite me, Kindle!  I think the Universe is trying to tell me to go to Russia - 2013, maybe!

Thanks, gaynell, for the tip.  This book looks to be a great read.


Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 145
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2004

April 28, 2012

New topic...NEW! Ukraine's Dnieper River & the Black Sea: Kiev to Yalta & Odessa (2013)

This will be on the top of our list for 2013.  We went on "Russia Revealed" trip on it was fantastic.

This one will be on the Tiki Don which is the "sister ship" of the Rossia which we took on the Russia Revealed trip.

Since we do not reserve until perhaps February or March, we hope Grand Circle does not drop this trip because of not enough people signing up right away.

We have been the St. Petersburg, Russia two times and although it is great, we would opt for the extension of Istanbul.  Although we have been there many years ago as part of a huge ship, Grand Circle's plan for the extension sounds full of exciting plans and planned dinners (which we prefer dining with the Grand Circle group rather than being "on our own dinners".


P.S. I did not know how to make this a new topic so I used the "post a reply"


Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:


Traveler Since: 1999

April 28, 2012

To create a new topic, go to the main Travel Forum page and click the name of the appropriate section such as Europe for a topic about Russia. Then scroll down and click the red "Post a New Topic" button.

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 145
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2004

April 28, 2012

Thanks, Janice, I was able to do it.  Had done it before but forgot how to post a new topic.

Author: tomnat

Joined: 6/4/2010
Posts: 81
Trips Taken: 18
Traveler Since: 2004

May 20, 2012

I am enjoring Rutherford's "Russka" before our departure 5/27/12. It is a long 1000 page historical fiction (like Michener) following a few families from 180AD  to about 1990, as they fairly realistically interact with the significant events & people of Russian history. So far it covers the Ukraine & European Russia; so it gives a great cultural understanding for the Russia trip & the Kiev extension.

Thank you for the wonderful suggestion! We find that the more we read & learn before our trips, the more we enjoy our trips.


Author: carolwillers

Joined: 8/13/2012
Posts: 1
Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2006

August 13, 2012

 Off to Russia the beginning of Sept. finishing Catherine the Great by Massie, she was quite a woman! Read Peter thr Great, also by Massie, quite bloodthirsty. Winter Palace (fiction) by Stachniak is another version of Catherine. Madonnas of Leningrad is a good scene setter, as is Nicolas and Alexandria. Can't wait to see St Petersberg. 

Carol White

Author: anitabg

Joined: 4/1/2010
Posts: 7
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 2000

August 15, 2012

We're going on the Russian Revealed cruise Sept. 20th and maybe, instead of reading the 3rd book in the Steig Larsson trilogy of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I ought to re-read the Massey books (at least one of them).  In any case, I better get started!


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