A short bit from the book...
Taken from 'How To Marry A Russian Bride', pp.s 247-248
"But Dave has more places to go and things to do. In particular he takes the metro back to 'Culture Park' station and walks the half-mile or so to Tolstoy's house, which has been lovingly preserved just as it was when Russia's most famous writer lived there.
For Dave is on a mission: to seek out that other Russia, the beautiful pre-revolutionary Russia of the late nineteenth century.
And so Dave sits in Tolstoy's garden on this gorgeous sunny day: an oasis of calm in this roaring city, complete with its benches and its footpaths and even a summerhouse.
And could anything be more wonderful than this, muses Dave? Than to sit in the garden of the greatest writer of all time, on this lovely sunny day, in the place where he once walked?
This house incidentally - Tolstoy's house that is - is the only one Dave will see in the whole of his time in Moscow which remotely resembles a typical house in London: that is to say, a house with rooms on two floors, a pitched roof and a garden.
And so Dave prepares to enter this elegant pre-revolutionary time capsule. As he goes inside he is greeted by yet more of those active women pensioners who work in practically every museum in Moscow. Naturally he pays a huge premium for being a western tourist, but what does that matter? If it is to see the home of the great one, the giant, the commanding genius of Western literature?
And so at the behest of those babushkas, those active women pensioners (who speak no English) Dave dons overslippers and enters this hallowed place. He enters rooms full of oak tables grown dark with age and brightly upholstered chairs and sepia photographs of Tolstoy's family upon the walls. He goes upstairs to the large drawing room on the first floor, where there is a grand piano, and where Tolstoy entertained the cream of Russian artistic and intellectual life of his day.
Here Dave wanders as if in a happy dream, along more rooms, past the skin of the bear that nearly killed Tolstoy, past his chess set and potted aspidistras set on lace tablecloths, past wooden box-sash windows behind net curtains, as if this was all a perfectly preserved stage set from the filming of 'Anna Karenina'; a nineteenth century country squire's house, preserved as if it were miles from Moscow, still filled with all its original artefacts, with its writing bureaux and its servants' rooms and its paraffin lamps and stacked crockery and cane tables - all as though Tolstoy had just popped out and left you, dear visitor, in charge. And once more Dave walks out into that sheltered garden and sits among the outbuildings, and murmurs to himself, what a place! What a place!"