Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, March 15, 2010

Memoir Monday... The Storks' Nest by Laura Lynne Williams: Life and Love in the Russian Countryside! And A Review!

The Storks' Nest
[Life and Love in the Russian Countryside]

From the Publishers... The Storks' Nest is the true story of a young American woman who moves to a remote village in western Russia and falls in love with a nature photographer. Together they explore the wilderness of the impenetrable Bryansk Forest, coming face-to-face with bison and bears, apprehending poachers and a runaway stallion, and raising a stork and a moose. As they build a house and a life together, nature often sets the agenda, bringing floods and impassable roads, blood-sucking insects, and bone-chilling cold. Yet, these present-day hardships are nothing compared to those the Chukhrai villagers have experienced in the past century-from forced hunger to Communist repression to Hitler's invasion. As Laura learns about the history and life of the village and its 19 inhabitants, she discovers the enduring spirit of the Russian people and the immeasurable joys of living with nature.

Laura Lynne Williams fell in love... but not just with a Russian nature photographer named Igor, but with Russia and the hard working people of the isolated Russian village Chukhrai. The Storks' Nest by Laura Lynne Williams beautifully captures the powerful draw of nature to our souls. Living most of her life in "bustling polluted cities" and "working behind a desk" Laura's dream as a young college student at Cornell was to work in international nature conservancy. Her studies led her to joining the World Wildlife Federation, and then eventually becoming director of their first office in Russia promoting the conservation efforts to help sustain Russia's zapovedniki, which is a large network of strictly protected natural areas covering about 1.5 percent of the whole country. And this is where the story begins to draw you in... Laura eventually gives up her well paying job at WWF and accepts an offer from the handsome director of the Bryansk Forest Zapovednik, Igor Shpilenok, to run the educational center for the newly constructed visitor's center there for about $60 a month. Motivated primarily by her need to get out from behind her desk and back into the actual field Laura begins a new phase in her life. We trail behind her as she raises an orphaned moose, or catches a moor frog to feed a baby stork. I was captivated by her descriptions of the simple beauty surrounding her, and her everyday normal village life- laying pipes, digging trenches, cooking traditional Russian meals. The bison, beavers, moose and the rare black storks made up her surroundings, but also the hardships and small victories of village life. Sprinkled with photographs of the villagers and animals around her, there are also a few recipes within the pages. One recipe is for Bliny, a staple of the Russian diet, and a favorite treat of Kisa, Igor's red haired dachshund. Heartwarming and heartbreaking at times too, The Storks' Nest by Laura Lynne Williams will make you yearn for the great outdoors. You'll learn so much about Russia and the natural beauty that is rarely promoted. You'll also learn about a woman who followed her heart and became something more than just herself. If you love nature, you'll enjoy The Storks' Nest. It's not just a memoir though, The Storks' Nest is an important work reminding us that there are still places untouched by over-development, cell phones and highways, and that the wildlife and wilderness there should be preserved. I want to thank Katie at Fulcrum Publishing for sending me the review copy of The Storks' Nest! If you'd like to learn more about Laura Lynne Williams, you can read more about Laura and her husband, Igor, and their important work at the Center for Russian Nature Conservation. You can view the beautiful Russian nature photography of Igor Shpilenok at his online gallery too. *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!


Harvee said...

Sounds like a wonderful book on living in a natural environment, and one I'd love to read. Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

I love books about Russia! Thanks for telling me of this one.

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