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Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andreï…
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Dreams of My Russian Summers (original 1995; edition 1997)

by Andreï Makine

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1,4193110,001 (3.86)54
A boy growing up in the Soviet Union of the 1960s and 1970s visits his French grandmother each summer, accumulating new tales of a Russia he never knew.
Member:chielscher
Title:Dreams of My Russian Summers
Authors:Andreï Makine
Info:Arcade Publishing (1997), Paperback, 320 pages
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Le Testament Français by Andreï Makine (1995)

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» See also 54 mentions

English (21)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Lithuanian (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Thought this was a beautiful book...about an adolescent (for most of the book) navigating being French and Russian, how language and culture color his perspective, set against the backdrop of 20th century history.

I suspect Grace would like this book very much... ( )
  giovannaz63 | Jan 18, 2021 |
Le Testament Français was published in the US as Dreams of My Russian Summers, but UK publishers retained its French title even in translated editions. It was the first book ever to win both the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Medicis, and it became a bestseller in France and elsewhere. I picked it up from Brotherhood Books in 2014 because in my 2011-2012 Year of Russian Reading I'd read Makine's The Life of an Unknown Man (La vie d'un homme inconnu). And so I knew Le Testament Français would be a fine book, and it is. As the blurb on the back of this edition says:
Once in a while, there comes a book that captivates critics and public alike. Andreï Makine's autobiographical novel is such a book... Its subtle blend of memory and imagination is reminiscent of Proust... But in its broad sweep and mystical vision, Le Testament Français belongs to the tradition of the 19th century Russian novelists. (Independent on Sunday, date & reviewer's name not provided).
Famously, Makine was born in Russia in 1957, fled the Soviet Union for France in 1987, where he slept rough for a while and struggled to have his writing accepted as authentic because publishers thought a Russian couldn't possibly write so well in French. Since they didn't think it was his own work, he pretended to have translated it, and that's how this beautiful novel eventually came to be published.

It's a coming-of-age novel, one in which the conflicted soul of a young Muscovite eventually reconciles his love of all things French with a love of his homeland, Russia. As a boy he inhabits two parallel universes: the Soviet Union under Stalin, and a dream-world, an Atlantis derived from the stories of his French grandmother who lives in Saranza in Siberia, where he goes for the school holidays.

Charlotte had fled there in the exodus from Moscow in WW2, and never left it. She was notified twice of her husband Fyodor's death during the war, and was finally reunited with him long afterwards but he died within a year. Under Stalin they had been persecuted as foreigners and even after many years in Saranza she is still regarded as an outsider, and only the woman who delivers the milk feels at ease with her.

But this information about Charlotte's life comes only in fragments. The boy learns some of it from Charlotte's stories and some of it from the 'Siberian suitcase', a suitcase of newspaper clippings and photos that Charlotte, in her haste to escape the bombing, grabbed by mistake instead of the case of clothes and food for the journey to the east. But the stories that entrance the boy are stories of Tsar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra, of their glamourous presence at the Paris Opera, of magnificent ten-course meals with exotic ingredients like bartavels and ortolans garnished with truffles, and of seeing Proust in the park at Neuilly. The boy and his sister live in this alternate world, speaking French fluently in the holidays and Russian during their more prosaic days at school in Moscow, among classmates who mock him for his dreamy, bookish ways.

The power of this wondrous world wanes as he get older.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2020/10/22/le-testament-francais-by-andrei-makine-trans... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Oct 22, 2020 |
An incredibly beautiful book of personal history juxtaposed with world history set against the tumultuous backdrops of twentieth century France and Russia. The novel has a very distinct Proustian flavour in that:
- it explores memory through adolescent eyes,
- the protagonist has a close relationship with his grandmother,
- the book is originally in French,
- every line is so damn thoughtful that I've to read it twice.

It's about memory, the importance of storytelling (in particular the stuff that family lores are made of), and my personal favourite - the power of languages especially the dual (or more) personas that come from bilingualism (or multilingualism). And all this is reminisced in the author's hypnotic prose through the eyes of an adolescent beginning to grasp the nuances of / find his identity in his family and the world. An impossibly excellent gem of a book. ( )
  kitzyl | Aug 31, 2017 |
Beautiful novel, very evocative and poetic, with a moving and surprising end. Should be read in your mother tongue if the translation is good. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
A long novel about a kid and his relationship with his grandmother and their lives. Often hard to follow, perhaps just a cultural difference through translating the Russian man's French into English... ( )
  niquetteb | Aug 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andreï Makineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Strachan, GeoffreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Versteeg, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
"[...[ c'est avec un enfantin plaislr et une profonde émotion que, ne pouvant citer les noms de tant d'autres qui durent agir de même et par qui la France a survécu, je transcris ici leur nom véritable [...]"
MARCEL PROUST.
Le temps retrouvé

Le Sibérien demandera-t-il au ciel des oliviers, ou le Provençal du klukwa ? »
JOSEPH DE MAISIRE.
Les Soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg

« Je questionnai l'écrivain russe sur sa méthode de travail et m'étonnai qu'il ne fit pas lui-même ses traductions, car il parlait un français très pur, avec un soupçon de lenteur, à cause de la subtilité de son esprit. Il m'avoua que l'Académie et son dictionnaire le gelaient. »
ALPHONSE DAUDET
Trente ans à Paris
Dedication
For Marianne Veron and Herbert Lottman
For Laura and Thierry de Montalembert
For Jean-Christophe
First words
While still a child, I guessed that this very singular smile represented a strange little victory for each of the women: yes, a fleeting revenge for disappointed hopes, for the coarseness of men, for the rareness of beautiful and true things in this world.
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UK title: Le Testament Français
US title: Dreams of My Russian Summers
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A boy growing up in the Soviet Union of the 1960s and 1970s visits his French grandmother each summer, accumulating new tales of a Russia he never knew.

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Hachette Book Group

2 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 1559703830, 155970893X

Arcade Publishing

An edition of this book was published by Arcade Publishing.

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