Gretta reviews An Irish Woman in Czarist Russia

An Irish Woman in Czarist Russia by Jean Lombard is an amazing read.

The book centres on the life of Kathleen Ffrench (1864-1938) daughter of Robert Percy Ffrench an Irish Diplomat and Sophie Alexandrovna Kindiakova a Russian heiress.   Kathleen went on to inherit her father’s Irish Castle at Monivea, Galway, Ireland and her Russian grandfather’s estates on the Volga River.

Kathleen had a colourful childhood, being raised by her grandparents after her parents separated.  She studied in Italy, travelled throughout Europe and managed family estates in Russia and Ireland.

Jean Lombard, daughter-in-law of a relative of Kathleen Ffrench, takes us through Kathleen’s life.   Using personal accounts from Kathleen’s letters and carefully researching Russian history Lombard treats the reader to an immense insight into the turbulent history of Ireland and Russia. The luxurious life of the wealthy and powerful in both countries is brought to life as is the atrocities of the Great War and the Russian Revolution.

Kathleen and her father are interred in a Mausoleum at Monivea which Kathleen had built at a cost of £10.000.  Her will stating that her Irish inheritance be given to the Irish State, the house to be used as a home for artists was not honoured.

This book is well worth reading.