A Countess in Limbo

A Countess in Limbo

Diaries in War & Revolution : Russia 1914-1920, France 1939-1947

Book - 2012
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Countess Olga "Lala" Hendrikoff was born into the Russian aristocracy, serving as lady-in-waiting to the Empresses and enjoying a life of great privilege. But on the eve of her wedding in 1914 came the first rumours of an impending war - a war that would change her life forever and force her to flee her country as a stateless person, with no country to call home. Spanning two of the most turbulent times in modern history - World War I in Russia and World War II in Paris - Countess Hendrikoff's journals demonstrate the uncertainty, horror and hope of daily life in the midst of turmoil. Her razor-sharp insight, wit and sense of humour create a fascinating eyewitness account of the Russian Revolution and the Occupation and Liberation of Paris. In A Countess in Limbo, Countess Hendrikoff tells her remarkable true story that includes the loss of her brother in the Russian Gulag, her sister-in-law murdered with the Russian Imperial family, and herself being robbed at gunpoint and accused of being a spy by the Nazis. She also speaks of the daily life that continues during wartime - ration cards and food restrictions, the black market, and the struggle just to get by for another day. Her gripping story and thoughtful analysis provide an invaluable look at life and humanity in the face of war.
Publisher: Vancouver : Inkflight, 2012.
ISBN: 9781926606798
Branch Call Number: 947. 084 HEN H
Characteristics: 458 p.: ill.
Additional Contributors: Zilberov, Evgeny
Ranson, Maureen


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Jul 31, 2018

I enjoyed reading the diary entries of a female aristocratic Russian emigre who had fled Russia in her early twenties during the Russian Revolution to live in Paris among other Russian nationals like herself. She describes the lifestyle of her friends and relatives and contrasts that with herself who is unmarried and needs to work. I found her accounts of living in Paris during WWII to be particularly interesting as she describes the influx of the Belgians arriving on foot in the French countryside where she was staying, to the German Occupation, to the Liberation forces, to life in Paris in the immediate post war years, and eventually to her decision to leave Paris for Philadelphia to live with a relative. The diary entries are full of details of how she survived during those years, her work, the people she worked for, everyday incidents, the difficulty of getting food in the city but available on the black market and in the countryside, her views and those of her friends about returning to Russia, and communication with family members who were spread out Europe. It didn't bother me that the names she mentions in her diary entries were unknown to me. Quite a few footnotes provide explanatory information and a fly leaf shows her family tree to refer to in order to see the family connections. The diary,written in French and Russian, came to light after her death in Alberta where she moved to be with another family member. The translation is excellent. The whole book consists of diary entries. An engrossing read.

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