A Nest of the Gentry By Ivan Turgenev

14

Victims of misfortune are quick to sense another of their kind from a distance, but in old age they rarely become friends, which is in no way surprising: they have nothing to share together – not even hope.

Where do I begin with this book, first of all I would like to thank Will at Alma Books for being so kind and sending me a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A Nest of the Gentry was written by Ivan Turgenev and was first published in Russian in 1859. The novel deals with personal struggles of an individual in a period of turbulent social change.

The story centres on (official blurb): “Coming back to the “nest” of his family home in Russia after years of fruitless endeavours away from his roots, Lavretsky decides to turn his back on the vacuous salons of Paris and his frivolous and unfaithful wife Varvara Pavlovna. On his return he meets Liza, the daughter of one of his cousins, whom he had known when they were children and who rekindles in him long-smothered feelings of love. News of Varvara’s death arrive from France, offering Lavretsky the prospect of a new life, but a cruel twist threatens to shatter his dreams and forces him to re-evaluate his plans.”

There are so many things that can be said about this novel. However, I would like to comment on the use of characters, setting, nature, and Turgenev’s writing in general. First of all Turgenev knows how to tell a story and this story is such a sad, beautiful and understated tale. Throughout this novel the setting and the way of life in Russia during this time period are nicely observed. The main characters within this novel are brilliant and definitely provide interesting arguments on behalf of Russia.Throughout the whole of this book you get a real feel for Russian life at this point of time and how it contrasted with European life.

Turgenev’s love of nature really plays its role within this novel which makes the read even more enjoyable because you get a feel of Turgenev’s passions within life. Throughout the whole of the novel sadness, beauty and hope are all key factors. Turgenev’s writing is powerful, and has a realism and honesty about it as well. There’s also a sort of greatness and kindness, tempered by sadness, as well as a lovely prose style.

Traces of human life vanish very quick;ly: Glafira Petrovna’s estate had not yet gone wild, but it seemed already to have sunk into that quiet repose which possesses everything on earth whenever there is no restless human infection to affect it.

This novel has all the qualities of a good Russian novel it seems. It most definitely is a gem of Russian literature that has a beautifully rendered prose about it. I would recommend this novel to anyone who’s looking to read more Russian classics or are looking for a book with a simple plot that is also easy to read.

The edition was published by Alma Classics (2016)

(The Image is my own please do not copy/take without permission first)

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