On the to read but not yet list is Natasha’s Dance by Orlando Figes, a present from a beautiful friend whose daughter lived in Moscow and St Petersburg during 1980s I think.
Orkando quotes a cycle from a poem Cinque about Anna Akhmatova’s meeting with Isaiah Berlin who was secretary of British Embassy in Moscow and how she felt as a Russian talking to an English person:
Sounds die away in the ether,
And darkness overtakes the dusk.
In a world become mute for all time,
There are only two voices: yours and mine.
And to the almost bell-like sound
Of the wind from invisible Lake Ladoga,
That late night dialogue turned into
The delicate shimmer of interlaced rainbows1
Here’s to interlaced rainbows – of all English who visit Moscow and talk with Russians!
1.Figes O (2002), p454, From the complete works of Anna Akhmatova, Natasha’s Dance, published by Penguin Books