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The Charm before the Storm

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 9 July 1987

Speak, Memory 
by Vladimir Nabokov.
Penguin, 242 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008623 4
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The Russian Album 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 191 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3109 8
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The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff 
prepared in association with by Sonja Sinclair.
Toronto, 265 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 8020 2556 0
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A Little of All These: An Estonian Childhood 
by Tania Alexander.
Cape, 165 pp., £12.50, March 1987, 0 224 02400 0
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... Stuck in the country, bored and vaguely discontented, with themselves, their lives or the way things are, half the heroes in Russian fiction appear to be waiting for something to happen while the other half, in varying degrees of relief or despair, settle down to the thought that nothing will – not in their lifetime. Tolstoy might not have made so much of Levin’s contentment had contentment not been so hard to find ...

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