A Mountain Of Crumbs

Episodes

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0120100823

Sian Thomas reads from Elena Gorokhova's memoir of growing up behind the Iron Curtain.

Elena Gorokhova wishes her mother had come from Leningrad, the world of Pushkin and the tsars, lace ironwork and pearly domes.

Its sophistication might have left a permanent mark of refinement on her soul.

But she didn't.

She came from the provincial town of Ivanovo in central Russia, where chickens lived in the kitchen and a pig squatted under the stairs.

She came from where they lick plates.

Read by Sian Thomas

A Jane Marshall Production for BBC Radio 4.

0220100824

From the moment she goes to nursery school in the Soviet Union of the 1960s, Elena Gorokhova begins to rebel against being part of the collective and is threatened by the redoubtable Aunt Polya, with a dvoika, in behaviour.

And as she progresses to proper school she knows that membership of the Young Pioneers and later the Komsomol awaits her as it awaits all her fellow students.

Read by Sian Thomas

A Jane Marshall Production for BBC Radio 4.

At five years old Elena goes to nursery and learns about being part of the collective.

0320100825

At 17, Elena Gorokhova is accepted into Leningrad University's English department.

Elena Gorokhova has strong doubts about joining the Young Communist League but she knows she can't go to college unless she is a member, and she longs to read English at Leningrad University.

She loves the romanticism of literature and yearns for a dacha with white gauzy curtains; she wishes her family discussed etiquette instead of lugging buckets of water to beds of tomatoes and dill.

And then her Aunt Mila arrives from Minsk.

Read by Sian Thomas

A Jane Marshall Production for BBC Radio 4.

0420100826

Elena Gorokhova is selected to teach Russian to visiting Americans.

Elena Gorokhova is understandably nervous when the university authorities select her to teach English to visiting American students during the summer break.

It is the first time she has seen a live American and now she is faced with fourteen of them, staring at her with the same intense curiosity with which she stares at them.

And she likes what she sees, especially when she is introduced to Robert.

Read by Sian Thomas

A Jane Marshall Production for BBC Radio 4.

05 LAST20100827

Robert has returned to Texas and Elena wonders if she might visit him.

Robert has returned to Texas but he writes to Elena every week and wonders if she might visit him.

He explains that he can get her a visitors' visa if she goes as his fiancée but Elena explains that it is not getting into America that is the difficult part but getting out of the USSR.

They both understand that there is only one way to achieve this - but are they ready to get married?

Read by Sian Thomas

A Jane Marshall Production for BBC Radio 4.