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Medea Georgievna Sinoply Mendez is an iconic figure in her Crimean village, the last remaining pure-blooded Greek in a family that has lived on that coast for centuries. Childless Medea is the touchstone of a large family, which gathers each spring and summer at her home. There are her nieces (sexy Nike and shy Masha), her nephew Georgii (who shares Medea’s devotion to the Medea Georgievna Sinoply Mendez is an iconic figure in her Crimean village, the last remaining pure-blooded Greek in a family that has lived on that coast for centuries. Childless Medea is the touchstone of a large family, which gathers each spring and summer at her home. There are her nieces (sexy Nike and shy Masha), her nephew Georgii (who shares Medea’s devotion to the Crimea), and their friends. In this single summer, the languor of love will permeate the Crimean air, hearts will be broken, and old memories will float to consciousness, allowing us to experience not only the shifting currents of erotic attraction and competition, but also the dramatic saga of this family amid the forces of dislocation, war, and upheaval of twentieth-century Russian life.


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Medea Georgievna Sinoply Mendez is an iconic figure in her Crimean village, the last remaining pure-blooded Greek in a family that has lived on that coast for centuries. Childless Medea is the touchstone of a large family, which gathers each spring and summer at her home. There are her nieces (sexy Nike and shy Masha), her nephew Georgii (who shares Medea’s devotion to the Medea Georgievna Sinoply Mendez is an iconic figure in her Crimean village, the last remaining pure-blooded Greek in a family that has lived on that coast for centuries. Childless Medea is the touchstone of a large family, which gathers each spring and summer at her home. There are her nieces (sexy Nike and shy Masha), her nephew Georgii (who shares Medea’s devotion to the Crimea), and their friends. In this single summer, the languor of love will permeate the Crimean air, hearts will be broken, and old memories will float to consciousness, allowing us to experience not only the shifting currents of erotic attraction and competition, but also the dramatic saga of this family amid the forces of dislocation, war, and upheaval of twentieth-century Russian life.

30 review for Medea and Her Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dolors

    Unlike the barbaric heroine of Euripide’s play, the Medea of this novel is the nourishing matriarch of a widespread family originally Greek. A tale that spans several decades with snapshots flashing back to the past where the reader is privy to the comings and goings of numerous relatives who visit Medea throughout one summer in the sixties at her parents’ house by the Crimean sea. Adultery, politics and family issues are dexterously exposed with terse style, reminiscent of Ludmilla’s first nove Unlike the barbaric heroine of Euripide’s play, the Medea of this novel is the nourishing matriarch of a widespread family originally Greek. A tale that spans several decades with snapshots flashing back to the past where the reader is privy to the comings and goings of numerous relatives who visit Medea throughout one summer in the sixties at her parents’ house by the Crimean sea. Adultery, politics and family issues are dexterously exposed with terse style, reminiscent of Ludmilla’s first novel “The funeral party”, with deftly sketched characters that revolve around a grand “dramatis personae”; this modern Medea, a childless widow who is confidante, guardian and caretaker and who becomes the epicenter of the novel. During the last years, I have developed a taste for less adorned and more straightforward writing style, which both Nordic writers and Ludmilla’s prose fit into. One can find wisdom and poetry in the sparsity of their descriptions, which are emotional but not sentimental, and bear traces family sagas without being clichéd or overwritten. In the end, I found in this Medea what I was looking for; the person we all hope to become, wise, graceful and respectful. Some questions might never be fully answered but authors like Ludmilla shows us in quiet, simple words that some events in life occur not because of unfairness but just because. Such is the nature of life and happiness depends on accepting instead of fighting against it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Cihodariu

    My first read from Lyudmila Ulitskaya, and I loved it. Iskrenne vash Shurik will be next, as I understand it makes a good pair for Medea. Besides being essentially very Russian (the references to the athletics culture in the Soviet space, poetry, and mathematics and so on), I liked that the atmosphere throughout the book is also highly multi-cultural. It's not just that the family described has Greek roots, but also the Crimean community that blends Armenians with Tatars and Turks, etc. The stor My first read from Lyudmila Ulitskaya, and I loved it. Iskrenne vash Shurik will be next, as I understand it makes a good pair for Medea. Besides being essentially very Russian (the references to the athletics culture in the Soviet space, poetry, and mathematics and so on), I liked that the atmosphere throughout the book is also highly multi-cultural. It's not just that the family described has Greek roots, but also the Crimean community that blends Armenians with Tatars and Turks, etc. The story is convincing, dense and poignant, though it reads fast. I grew attached to Medea and to some of her metaphorical children, and I like the fact that not all characters are likable but you can sympathize with them anyway. That's the mark of a credible writing style, for me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    Saw the title and had to pick it up--Mr. Cole's fault for having us do Medea parodies in senior English. Not about the Greek tragedy by Euripides, however. Somewhat of a Greek tragedy in it's own right. Beautifully written and translated, makes me wonder what it must be like in the original Russian. Little gems of language, imagery, and metaphor abound. Worth reading just for these. The storyline moves between the current day, life during the summer at Medea's home in Crimea where her extended f Saw the title and had to pick it up--Mr. Cole's fault for having us do Medea parodies in senior English. Not about the Greek tragedy by Euripides, however. Somewhat of a Greek tragedy in it's own right. Beautifully written and translated, makes me wonder what it must be like in the original Russian. Little gems of language, imagery, and metaphor abound. Worth reading just for these. The storyline moves between the current day, life during the summer at Medea's home in Crimea where her extended family faithfully visits, to pivotal events in the family's past. Enough political history is mentioned in passing to make me curious to learn more about the history of Crimea. The characters are intriguing, but not fully fleshed out. Adultery abounds. The end was not very satisfying, and the reader is not sure what conclusion to draw from the plot line. The epilogue clashes with the rest of the story. It also bothers me that the cover depicts Medea in white, while the book describes her wearing only black. The photo is beautiful, though.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marius Citește

    Writing of Ludmila Uliţkaia from Medeea si copiii ei, is remembering of great saga family from soth -american literature: House of spirits by Isabelle Allende or One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mirela

    2,5 p

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Most of the way through this book I mildly enjoyed it, although I was not strongly drawn in. The stories of various family members of the sprawling Sinolpy family are told in separate chapters, almost like separate vignettes or short stories. There is good detail and I felt that I could picture the lives of these people in Russia, so different from my own. However, I really did not like the ending of the book. As the book progressed, it became more and more focused on one character and her invol Most of the way through this book I mildly enjoyed it, although I was not strongly drawn in. The stories of various family members of the sprawling Sinolpy family are told in separate chapters, almost like separate vignettes or short stories. There is good detail and I felt that I could picture the lives of these people in Russia, so different from my own. However, I really did not like the ending of the book. As the book progressed, it became more and more focused on one character and her involvement in a love triangle. The book seemed to switch from a general depiction of these people's lives to an exclusive focus on one woman's love madness. I did not like the way the characters in the love triangle behaved, as it seemed quite thoughtless and even irrational. Perhaps this was the intent of the author - to convey the sense of these people completely swept up in their passions and emotions, but to me it felt overdone and so completely different from my own experience of life that I could not relate to it at all. It was not the direction I expected the book to go and overall I can't say that I really liked the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Razmuzeta

    This book is missing something. I don't know if it's the lack of a deeper meaning of the stories presented, or the fact that it doesn't really have a novel structure (it's more of a short stories collection), or the fact that it starts nicely like a multicultural-multi faith family saga throughout the years, revolved around Meddea, but then looses that perspective and focuses only on a very sick love triangle in the last 1/3 of the book....I mean Meddea isn't even mentioned in that part, until t This book is missing something. I don't know if it's the lack of a deeper meaning of the stories presented, or the fact that it doesn't really have a novel structure (it's more of a short stories collection), or the fact that it starts nicely like a multicultural-multi faith family saga throughout the years, revolved around Meddea, but then looses that perspective and focuses only on a very sick love triangle in the last 1/3 of the book....I mean Meddea isn't even mentioned in that part, until the last pages. I don't know, maybe I just really enjoyed reading it, but expected something else, something more, especially about the ending: it had the most unsatisfying ending I have ever read! And the characters in these book (especially the women)...is infidelity and acting upon ones primary sexual instincts, no matter who you hurt, really that of a everyday thing in Russia (Crimea)?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Silvia

    A great summer read. I finished it quite fast, just didn't get the time to upload a review. A lot of characters, and a lot of happenings, but somehow I had no problem keeping up with them. I loved the casual way the stories were sometimes exposed, and the deep way the author dealt with some more heavy stuff. A great summer read. I finished it quite fast, just didn't get the time to upload a review. A lot of characters, and a lot of happenings, but somehow I had no problem keeping up with them. I loved the casual way the stories were sometimes exposed, and the deep way the author dealt with some more heavy stuff.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Agoston

    More simplistic—yet no less powerful—than her other novels. It solely focuses on human connections; family, friends, loose acquaintances, all framed by the ancient rawness of the Crimean peninsula.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    i would have given this 4 stars, if the first half of the book had not been so incredibly slow. it was very difficult to get going, but about half-way in the story becomes intriguing. think of this book like walking through a Portrait Museum...slowly, taking time to look at each individual -- their features, the backdrop in which they are pictured...that's how the chapters in this book roll - each a look at individuals in Medea's family members (over time you see all of their interconnections).. i would have given this 4 stars, if the first half of the book had not been so incredibly slow. it was very difficult to get going, but about half-way in the story becomes intriguing. think of this book like walking through a Portrait Museum...slowly, taking time to look at each individual -- their features, the backdrop in which they are pictured...that's how the chapters in this book roll - each a look at individuals in Medea's family members (over time you see all of their interconnections)...finally, we get closer to Medea herself and a shocking revelation that she has endured...this novel is another look at the definition of: family. love. fidelity. loyalty. i found it v interesting to read an eastern european/russo pespective of these terms. different than what could be described as the puritanical slant that may be pervasive in american culture.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Orla Hegarty

    This translated book covered a family in Russia centred around a character I was very engaged with. In many ways it was like a compilation of short stories that had the sometimes incidental Medea involved. Russian politics are a background in this story. I know precious little about them yet this book helped me see how the sharing of #herstories amongst worldwide cultures might be more important than the 'official negotiating tables'. In these #herstories we find empathy which is never measured i This translated book covered a family in Russia centred around a character I was very engaged with. In many ways it was like a compilation of short stories that had the sometimes incidental Medea involved. Russian politics are a background in this story. I know precious little about them yet this book helped me see how the sharing of #herstories amongst worldwide cultures might be more important than the 'official negotiating tables'. In these #herstories we find empathy which is never measured in government reports and policies.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    I really loved this. As with the Funeral Party, there is a central character around which everyone circles. In this case, the character is Medea, the childless and widowed matriarch of her family. The extended family comes to stay with her over vacations and, as in the Funeral Party, the reader feels the continuity of life throughout transitions and losses.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecka

    This was pretty complex. I had to refer to the family tree at the beginning throughout the entire book (good thing it wasn't an ebook!) so perhaps I'm not made for books with more than 10 characters. The story was nice, but... a bit pointless perhaps? This could easily be a tv-series, because that's what it felt like I just read; a show that stopped at the end of season 2. This was pretty complex. I had to refer to the family tree at the beginning throughout the entire book (good thing it wasn't an ebook!) so perhaps I'm not made for books with more than 10 characters. The story was nice, but... a bit pointless perhaps? This could easily be a tv-series, because that's what it felt like I just read; a show that stopped at the end of season 2.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anda

    Beautiful book, in which Ulitzkaia managed to depict the charming and scenic Crimea, but also to draw strong and vivid characters. Ulitzkaia really masters her words; her phrases are both delicate and sharp, the humor is subtle, and harmonizes with the lyrics.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Agnes Kelemen

    Beautifully and wisely written, like all the works of Lyudmila Ulitskaya.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jim Allan

    Some magic stuff here. Reminded me a bit of 100 years of solitude in its ambience. Really great translation by Arch Tait.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Roxana Cora

    Interesanta

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    A novel focusing on Medea, a widowed and childless woman living alone in the Crimea, and her large and messy Greek-descended family, who arrive at her small village every summer for beaches, parties, and gossip. The style is lyrical and frequently shifts in time from the present moment (which seems to be around the 1970s, though I don't think it's ever explicitly stated) to various events in Medea's memory, stretching all the way back to her parents' lives at the dawn of the 20th century and cov A novel focusing on Medea, a widowed and childless woman living alone in the Crimea, and her large and messy Greek-descended family, who arrive at her small village every summer for beaches, parties, and gossip. The style is lyrical and frequently shifts in time from the present moment (which seems to be around the 1970s, though I don't think it's ever explicitly stated) to various events in Medea's memory, stretching all the way back to her parents' lives at the dawn of the 20th century and covering every important moment in between. Despite brief references to the many major political upheavals this period covers (WWI, WII, the expulsion of the Crimean Tatars, the death of Stalin), the focus is very much on the family and its petty dramas: dead parents, marriages, divorces, affairs (SO MANY AFFAIRS), illegitimate children, children sent to live with siblings or grandparents or cousins, house renovations, careers desired and discarded, and so on. The best passages are those describing the landscape of Crimea, its mountains and steep paths and the scent of the ocean. Medea and Her Children falls into a certain style of 'literary fiction' that just doesn't work for me. I never engaged emotionally with any of the characters, although the writing is certainly lovely. There's all sort of major tragedies in the narrative, but I don't feel them much when the style comes off as so distancing and almost deliberately disorienting, choosing not to reveal characters' motivations or histories. Ah, well. At least there are some gorgeous turns of phrase.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anna A.

    A standard Ulitskaya, similar in style to her Shurik. It seems to me Ulitskaya's novels come in pairs: Medea and Shurik, The Big Green Tent and The Kukotsky Enigma, The Funeral Party and Sonechka, with her Daniel Stein standing alone as the least Russian of her books. Pick any of the members of these pairs, and you'll get a flavor of the other. The crispy, playful language sets the rhythm of the family saga that resembles a cluster of grapes, or Ulitskaya's hallmark capsule stories of characters, A standard Ulitskaya, similar in style to her Shurik. It seems to me Ulitskaya's novels come in pairs: Medea and Shurik, The Big Green Tent and The Kukotsky Enigma, The Funeral Party and Sonechka, with her Daniel Stein standing alone as the least Russian of her books. Pick any of the members of these pairs, and you'll get a flavor of the other. The crispy, playful language sets the rhythm of the family saga that resembles a cluster of grapes, or Ulitskaya's hallmark capsule stories of characters, held together by the central character Medea. This pious, quiet, childless woman bears no resemblance to her mythical namesake. She is an observer of the noisy bunch of her family, descendants of her numerous siblings, spread across the Soviet Union who meet during their regular summer migrations to Medea's home. The micro-stories of this large party are very much like the stories of Ulitskaya's other characters. Entertaining to read and easy to forget, with minor exceptions that stand out as memorable. The story to note here was perhaps Masha's, a happily married woman who falls prey to her passion for the local Adonis, that then leads to more tragic consequences.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jázmin Topuzidu

    I received this book from my high school literature teacher as a reward for my studies. It was only years later I felt I had to read it and felt immediately enchanted. Being half Greek I felt very touched by the story line. Ulickaja had created a very binding and maze-like family tree, but managed to do it in a followable way which is really something when it comes to novels. Thus, the reader is able to follow the ever growing family drama, holding the golden needle in his/her hands. The charact I received this book from my high school literature teacher as a reward for my studies. It was only years later I felt I had to read it and felt immediately enchanted. Being half Greek I felt very touched by the story line. Ulickaja had created a very binding and maze-like family tree, but managed to do it in a followable way which is really something when it comes to novels. Thus, the reader is able to follow the ever growing family drama, holding the golden needle in his/her hands. The characters of Ulickaja were so well portrayed I could imagine sitting with them in Medea's kitchen. However, I feel like the peek of the drama (Ch. 15) stood out from the flow. A bit lengthier, a bit more focused on one character's personal war while not really mentioning the rest. Overall, the ending didn't relieve the reader, despite the beautifully structured sentences and verses.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Every summer for many years, widowed and childless Medea Mendez has hosted a succesion of her dozens of nieces, nephews and their children in her home in Crimea. From all over the world, they begin to arrive, bringing with them all their hopes and dreams and passions to this beloved family gathering tradition. Slowpaced, but atmospheric and captivating family saga.

  22. 4 out of 5

    kathleen

    A multi-generational family dispersed throughout the far flung Soviet republics is kept united by a childless aunt. What could have been a poetic tale of love and family is marred by a sullen plot, and I suspect, a poor translation from the Russian.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicoleta Ivan

    This book has managed to change a bit my opinion about relationships (familiar and love/friendship).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    A beautiful novel by a beautiful writer. Ulitskaya has a gift for weaving stories, characters, places, feelings. A treasure, like all she writes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nare

    This book seemed like Marquez's 100 years of solitude, only realistic without the magical elements and showing many different cultures and historical events. Loved it very much. This book seemed like Marquez's 100 years of solitude, only realistic without the magical elements and showing many different cultures and historical events. Loved it very much.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Olga

    Very good novel. A lot of characters, was difficult in the beginning to keep up with all of them. But all together is an interesting story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Good book. Very deep thinking and with deep penetration of characters

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Myles

    I loved big green tent but this is a dud too slow after two weeks I gave up 40% through.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gremrien

    Another "mosaic prose," very similar in style and structure to "Зеленый шатер," but without its important social and political missions. It is more humane and warm, but somehow it was even more irritating and repulsive to me in most cases. Again, I understand that for many readers such literature might be a perfect one, very realistic, very sincere, very down-to-earth, and I even cannot name exactly specific flaws and defects of it; I just know that I do not like these people and do not want to Another "mosaic prose," very similar in style and structure to "Зеленый шатер," but without its important social and political missions. It is more humane and warm, but somehow it was even more irritating and repulsive to me in most cases. Again, I understand that for many readers such literature might be a perfect one, very realistic, very sincere, very down-to-earth, and I even cannot name exactly specific flaws and defects of it; I just know that I do not like these people and do not want to read about them anymore (practically, this feeling is persistent from the very first pages - it is not so powerful as to make me to discontinue the reading completely, but powerful enough to maintain the general negative impression about the book and its characters). I probably could recommend it to some older female readers though (you know, those ones with quite intelligent but too conservative for you tastes who sometimes ask you to find some new books for them), to try for themselves. However, I personally would stop my reading of Улицкая's books here for now (but I already downloaded one more of her books and will be reading it soon).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    NO SPOILERS! Finished; I thought I would like this so much, so I am quite disappointed! The author's imagery is beautiful, but didn't draw me to any of the characters. Several were annoying as hell! For me their behavior was superficial and hurtful or pitiful. I DO think families have all the ingredients described - love, hate jealousy, disgust and even indifference. The book is about relationships and very, very little about the Crimea. Kirkus is 100% right - very, very unfocused. Maybe it deser NO SPOILERS! Finished; I thought I would like this so much, so I am quite disappointed! The author's imagery is beautiful, but didn't draw me to any of the characters. Several were annoying as hell! For me their behavior was superficial and hurtful or pitiful. I DO think families have all the ingredients described - love, hate jealousy, disgust and even indifference. The book is about relationships and very, very little about the Crimea. Kirkus is 100% right - very, very unfocused. Maybe it deserves two stars b/c of the author's talent for imagery, but quite simply I would rather give too few stars than too many stars. Often I didn't enjoy reading the book, so only one star. Through page 153: I am having a hard time with this. There are so many people, not everyone is listed in the family tree. The feeling of what it is to be family is superbly done, BUT every relative is described retroactively and in huge detail. The result is that the book goes off on tangents. Maybe it is necessary to know each person's past life but you are told this, this and this happened. You are not living it. On the other hand the feeling of family perfectly hits the mark. Everybody in the family KNOWS the idiosyncracies of each other and accepts them. Terrible things and small trivial disputes happen within a family. Sure, you argue and fuss and laugh and scream, but in the end people each remain true to their own character and they are accepted. That is just how it is in a family. The writer describes situations and emotions and the scenery with great talent. Overall it feels like the book should have been pulled together more. Beautiful depictions but too unfocused. That is what I am feeling now. I am hoping that all the different strands will be pulled together, but as it stands now, the book is an analysis of separate distinct people. It doesn't hold together. But who is that on the cover? Could that be Medea in her youth? Now she only wears black, maybe with a white polka dot here and there. Through page 49: This is abook about Medea, as the title indicates. She is an older woman, a widow with no children of her own. She has 12 brothers and sisters and it is all her nieces and nephews and their children that visit her in the family house with four rooms, so things get rather cramped and they must keep rosters to make sure that all don't arive at the same time! Where is this house? Near the southern coast of the Crimea, the Tauride coast, and it seems the family has Greek and Tartar background. So it's a huge family, some living in France or Georgia, others having ties to Turkey, Greece or Uzbekistan, and there are lots of friends, so it is a bit hard to keep everybody straight, but it is like entering a room where all are happy, mostly, and there are hugs and kisses and a cacophony of noises and all these people are delightfully strange. Kirkus says the book is unfocused, but I am enjoying it. Before starting: I have chosen to read this book because it is written by an acclaimed contemporary Russian writer. I have a soft spot for Russian writers, and I do not want to just read the classics. In addition, it takes place in the Crimea, which is a fascinating place! There are lots of character, but a family tree is in the front of the book to help me. I have my atlas open. I think it will be necessary to follow the trajectories of the numerous characters. I wish there was a spell check here at GR!

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