Book Review: Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andreï Makine

August 28, 2011

“Dreams of My Russian Summers” by Andreï Makine (translated by Geoffrey Strachan) is a fictional, semi-autobiographical book. The book was originally written in French and has won several awards.

The pub­lisher has made avail­able one (2) copies of “Dreams of My Russian Summers” to be given out– enter at the end of the post.

Thoughts on: Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andreï MakineMy rating for Dreams of My Russian Summers4
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“Dreams of My Russian Summers” by Andreï Makine is a beautiful book, a lyrical and relatable story of the author who was born in Russia but spent his summers with his grandmother Charlotte Lemonnier. Charlotte’s stories took a life of their own and ultimately became an integral part of the author as well.

The book is as much the story of Charlotte as it is of the author. Born in the early 1900s, she moved to Russia with her father who practiced medicine. Over the years Charlotte went back and forth only to be in France on the eve of World War I. She soon returned to Russia with the Red Cross during the revolution. Charlotte stayed in Russia and bears witness to the horrors of war, starvation, famine, political murders, industrialization, and finally the fall of the country’s leaders.

Andreï visit his grandmother in a small Siberian town where she buried her Russian husband. Even though she accepts her destiny in Russia, she still holds a nostalgic place in her heart for France.

I can certainly appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of the author’s tale. Everything that had to do with the grandmother is pure gold, the images concrete, and she lived an admirable, if difficult life. But the other parts of the book lost me especially the last section. I couldn’t decide if the book crossed the line from “artistic” to “pompous”, I’ll go with “artistic” because I feel that was the intention.

It’s too bad I’m not able to read it in the original French, especially since the author had to invent a French translator because the book publishers simply didn’t believe a Russian author could have such mastery of their language.

This book won both the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Medicis, first time for a book to win both at once. The translation by Geoffrey Strachan is both attractive and captures (I hope) the style and colors of the story.

So tell me, which book do you want to read in the original language it was written?

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More Books by Andreï Makine*


The book is told from a first first-person. The book opens when the narrator, who is also the author, flips through old photographs which belonged to his grandmother. Soon the grandmother walks in and starts to reminisce about the photos.

The story continues to explore the grandmother’s life as well as the narrator’s life and how her stories influenced him.



  • Con­test is for one (1) new copy of “Dreams of My Russian Summers”.
  • There will be ONE (2) WINNERS
  • Must be a US/Canada mail­ing Address
  • Ends Mon­day September 3, 2011
  • Win­ners will be cho­sen using
  • Win­ners will have 24 hours after my ini­tial con­tact to write back their mail­ing address, oth­er­wise alter­nate win­ners will be picked
  • Please con­sider join­ing the FACEBOOK BOOK GIVEAWAY group

Congratulations: cwyant3497@ florida982002@, quixoticdreamer@

Zohar – Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I got this book for free.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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BOOK BLOGGERS – Have you read “Dreams of My Russian Summers”? If so link up your review below:

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Wrap Up

Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andreï Makine


  • DarleneAugust 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    I’d love to read the Grimms Fairy Tales in German, but my German is too rusty. My mom used to read them to me in German.

    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

  • Patricia Blomeley-MaddiganAugust 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Hi, Zohar!

    Thank you for this chance at a Giveaway!

    I have visited your website/blog a few times before, and keep up to date on your posts via email subscription. I look forward to what the future holds!!



    • zoharAugust 29, 2011 at 9:31 am

      Thank you Patricia, love your blog as well.

  • AlyceAugust 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I would love to read The Diary of Anne Frank in the original language.

  • Annmarie WeeksSeptember 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Would love to read Anna Karenina in the Russian original

  • Shivanee @Novel NicheSeptember 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Another nicely succint review from you, Zohar. I’ve been lucky to read some of my favourite books in their original languages (‘La casa de los espíritus’ by Isabel Allende, and ‘La Porte Étroite’ by André Gide among them). In the future, I’d love to be able to read Rumi’s ‘Maṭnawīye Ma’nawī’ in its original Persian.

    I hope the giveaway for ‘Dreams of my Russian Summer’ was well-received! Cheers 🙂

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