This House My Grandfather Built by Xenia Nikolskaya (Signed)

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The House that Grandfather Built  is my second book. It is the story of my family beginning in the 1930's and concluding in the present day. My Grandmother fell in love with my Grandfather, at first sight, struck by his beauty and oratorial prowess as a priest, the force of their attraction was so strong that he gave up his initial plan to become a monk in order to be with her.

My grandfather was later sentenced to hard labor for being a dissident and as a political prisoner was sent to the Gulag in Kolyma, Siberia and unwilling to leave him my grandmother bravely took her fate into her own hands by becoming a Geologist, working for the state mining company NKVD, enduring unfathomable hardship in a brutal terrain to remain close to her beloved. Their story is one of ferocious devotion, ideal love and the bitter ironies of living under a totalitarian regime, for in changing her life to remain by her husband’s side my Grandmother received an award from the state for her work and was considered a national heroine. After my Grandfather completed his sentence they, together with my mother who was born there, returned to St Petersburg to build the house where I spent my childhood. In this book I try to tell the story of Russia through my own family history & how the Soviet Union both marked and shaped all our lives through my personal memories, documents, artifacts and records that remain in this house, combining it with my own contemporary photographs. The book also contains documentation of my 2012 trip with my mother to the place where she was born and had never visited after they returned to the “Main Land” in 1953 when Stalin died. 

Designer:  Amparo Baquerizas