|How to marry a Russian bride|
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Why I have written this book - by Christopher Coin
I happened to speak Russian. One day I decided to start a conversation group for other English people who could speak this difficult language.
After a while we decided to try to find a native Russian speaker to help us with our pronunciation. In so doing I came into contact with a number of Russian women - all of whom had married British men.
As time went by these Russian women gradually became my friends. I was able to get to know them well. These Russian women fascinated me. They were so different from English women in a number of ways.
Firstly of course, they were almost all attractive and sometimes very attractive. But there was something else about them - or perhaps a number of things about them.
Perhaps the most noticeable thing about these women was that they had a streak of independence; that they had all taken a big risk, taken a big chance: they had left the world they knew in Russia to start a new life in a far-away country called Britain. In other words these people were travellers who had come far.
But I noticed that these women rarely talked about their previous lives and what they had done in Russia; it was almost as though their former existences had been declared off-bounds to me.
I was also struck by the great difference between these Russian women and their husbands. In the main these women were younger than their husbands of course - sometimes much younger. But it went far deeper than that. There were profound cultural and linguistic differences. In fact almost everything was different about them: the way they spoke English, the way they put on the airs and graces of being a lady when they obviously weren’t; in their obsession with cleaning everything and the fact that almost none of them did any work.
As time went by I was staggered to see how soon they left their various British husbands - often almost exactly as soon as they had qualified for British residency. I also started to wonder whether any of these marriages were ‘real’ in the sense we would say that a marriage was real, in other words that they simply liked each other, or whether there was always some underlying motive, for example whether or not the husband happened to have a giant house, or could afford to buy his new Russian wife a flashy car.
As time went by I was amazed by yet more marriages breaking up - when it had seemed that the Russian wife and her English husband had been perfectly happy together. But in all this time I was still convinced that it could work between a Russian wife and an English husband, because I had two very good friends, a Russian woman and an English man whose marriage did seem to be ‘real’ and who did seem to show that it could work.
And then one day they broke up, an event which shocked me to the core. There was never any sign of animosity between this Russian women and her English husband. There was absolutely nothing to indicate that anything might be wrong - and then one day this Russian woman simply told me she was filing for a divorce, only a few months after acquiring a full British passport.
And then I knew I had to write this book. I had to write this book for a number of reasons. Firstly it was simply a fascinating subject: the incompatibility of Russian women and English men which in turn implied a clash of cultures. Then there was the question of why Russian woman were so desperate to get out of Russia - that they would marry almost any English man simply in order to get out.
Then there was the fascinating role of human nature, the hiding of one’s real motives - perhaps even from oneself - but above all the wish for a better life; the entirely understandable yearning for a better future.
Of course this book is primarily written as a warning, a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of marrying a Russian woman. And I suspect that many - on a superficial reading - may think I am against Russian women, or even Russia.
But nothing could be further from the truth. For when I wrote this book one of the things I wanted to do was to write a tribute to Russia, or at least to Moscow, that great city. But it had to be a tribute without rose-tinted spectacles, or gloss; it had to be Moscow as she really is.
Funnily enough one of the things I wanted to do was to encourage people to visit Moscow, this fascinating amalgam of a Soviet past and a super-sleek capitalist future. And I suppose if I am honest I was hoping that a few of the people who read this book will stand like Dave does, in Kiev metro station, and stare slack-jawed in amazement at what they find.
For this reason I have deliberately written this book to be literally accurate, so that you can use it as the basis of your visit. Of course the Hotel Romanof is entirely fictional for obvious reasons, and I have changed the location of the university with the unpronounceable name; but you really will find a metro station called ‘Smolensk’ at the western end of the Arbat, and you really can walk to Red Square in about half an hour, from the Arbat’s eastern end.
But ultimately I suppose I wanted to write a good read. I wanted to write a book that would say something significant - but which was also interesting, which told a story, by turns illuminating and occasionally funny. I also wanted to write a book that upon completing it the reader would lay it down with a rueful smile, more knowledgeable that he or she had been at the beginning: wiser - yet grateful for the telling of the tale.
But of course it is up to you dear reader to decide whether I have succeeded.