In the High Peaks

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February Scurrying: E.M. Almedingen & Books in Progress

Falling behind with my reading again, I'm sorry to say.

My whimsy of the moment: I'm tracking down E. M. Almedingen's entire ouevre. Do any of you remember or recall this author? Most of her books were written for children, but she wrote a number of memoirs related to her extraordinary life. Although as a teen and very young woman she lived in Russia during the revolution and civil war, she spent most of her mature adult years in Shropshire, England. Nearly all of her books were also published in the U.S. The book I own is Katia (UK title is Little Katia), a library discard bought at a book sale decades ago. I read it first as a very young teen and loved it, so when it appeared beneath my browsing fingers in the early 1980s, I grabbed it. I read it then again, and loved it again, when I was once more swept up in the luxurious everyday world of the nobility of the Ukraine in the mid-19th century. Premise: Katia's mother has died in childbirth in St. Petersburg, and because her father has no idea what to do with her, she is sent to live with her cousins in the Ukraine, where she is loved, doted on, and has the time of her life. Yes, life for the nobility was the stuff of fantasy, alas. An adult reader can't help but wonder about all the poor peasants who make the life of Katia's family possible. But, I must tell you, although I've been grimly aware, I've never let that fact spoil my enjoyment of the intricate details of the pleasures Katia experienced. Do look up this book! It's a treasure--out of print, of course, but not unavailable. Libraries still have copies. If you find yourself peaking at your library's holdings of Almedingen's work, I'd be very interested in knowing what you find. I'm hoping to collect many of her other titles.

Today's title reference to "February scurrying" refers to my rush to finish The Flowers of War. I've got just a week left to finish and write about my thoughts for Caroline's Literature and War Readalong. (See previous entry for link.)

And because I've desperately felt the need for a brainless, fun read, I bought the newly published Indiscretion by Charles Dubow, which one of my favorite bloggers referred to fondly as a "beach read." Just $9.99 on the Nook, but a bit cheaper for the Kindle, ($8.89, if you're interested). Because it's a new book, it was clear from my online prowl of  libraries, that I'd have a long wait if I were to borrow. So I'm off to New York City and, for those long summer weekends, the Hamptons on Long Island. I've never been to the Hamptons, but I enjoy visiting just the same.


  1. I remember Almedingen but I don't think I ever read any of her books. My local library just has some of her biographies but I'll look out for Little Katia elsewhere. I love books set in Russia.

  2. Katrina,
    You will love Little Katia--I'm quite sure! I hope you can find it, and I hope there's one reasonably priced for you.

    I'm sorry I'm so late responding. Teaching does that to me, but I don't like it!


  3. I loved Little Katia. I borrowed it so many times from the libary, that they stopped registering my loan of it.

  4. Read Almedingen's "An Unbroken Unity" the story of Elizabeth Feodorovna. An inspiring, unforgettable story about an incredible woman.