Silverland : A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals, Paperback

Silverland : A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals Paperback

2.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Silverland charts Dervla Murphy's extraordinary expedition through the snowscapes of Far Eastern Russia.

No stranger to adventure, the intrepid septuagenarian's mid-winter journey takes her beyond Siberia to the furthest corners of Russia - areas proximate to Japan, Mongolia and the Arctic Circle.

Here she discovers a strange world of lynx and elks, indigenous tribes and shamanism, reindeer broth and taiga-berry pie.

She takes the coal-fuelled slow-train around regions hardly exposed to tourism and there she meets a host of colourful and generous characters.

They invite this unconventional Irish Babushka into their homes where she enjoys fascinating fireside debate bolstered by steaming samovars of sweet tea.

Just like its author, Silverland is insightful, warm and truly original.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages, black & white illustrations, maps
  • Publisher: John Murray General Publishing Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Travel writing
  • ISBN: 9780719568299



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

An interesting account of the writer's travels, mostly by train in Siberia. She is at her best when talking about the people she meets. I must admit I tend to skim over the parts where she explains politics, although there's less of this than in some of her other books.

Review by

Not one of Dervla Murphy's better efforts. She joins both Eric Newby and Laurens van der Post in the list of authors who have failed to make a rail journey in Russia's far east an enjoyable experience. Although Ms Murphy is better researched than either of the other two she fails to get to grips with the country and, like them, descends into writing mainly about its failings. Like them, and many others, she is fascinated to the point of obsession with its immediate Soviet past rather than its long term cultural depths. She deserves some credit though for her perpetual good humour and her social leanings which give her sympathy with ordinary people.But it's a thin book padded out with long passages of potted history taken from her post-journey research. Which she no doubt discovered she needed when she realised she didn't have much else of note to say. She, along with the other authors, took time to realise that the seeming fantasy of along distance train journey through the Siberian forests is in fact pretty boring. The train goes slowly through mostly unremarkable scenery. Things glanced through the carriage window are fleeting images. It' a diesel powered skate over the surface. Inevitable given her lack of Russian language ability.Annoying also that Ms Murphy claims as friends the strangers with whom she meets and converses on the train. Worse that she shamelessly imposes on their hospitality to scrounge beds and meals. And eventually irritating that she takes perverse pleasure in doing things the hard way just so that she can feel she has experienced a place as its poorer inhabitants would. Aimlessly taking trams to anonymous suburbs doesn't take her to the real Siberia any more than taking a taxi or a guided tour.

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