The Summer Guest, historical fiction by Alison Anderson, May 24, 2016 by HarperCollins. Blinded by a fatal illness, young Ukrainian doctor Zinaida Lintvaryova is living on her family’s rural estate in the summer of 1888. When a family from Moscow rents a cottage on the grounds, Zinaida develops a deep bond with one of their sons, a doctor and writer of modest but growing fame called Anton Pavlovich Chekhov.
Zinaida's journal is based on a true story and on the little known about her from the letters and the obituary Chekhov wrote for her when she died. (publisher)
The road is leading into the distance, the distance where we are going and which we cannot see; there is a slight rise toward the horizon and tall grass and a long line of poplar trees. It's deserted, we have the whole world to ourselves, the tall grass is bending to the breeze.... (more)
She was pleased with her words.
Well, not exactly her words; they were meant to be his words, and only as she reported them. Perhaps he had said something quite different. They had been for a ride in the carriage, and these words were a gift of vision, a way of helping her see the world. The difficulty lay in capturing a moment; his voice, its warmth and depth, was lost already. What could a short paragraph do to convey so much - the road, the trees, the sky, the light, a whole vista no one could see now, except through words? And his presence there, with her, a brief respite in her darkness, his breath, his low laughter.
Don't apologize, Zinaida Mikhailovna. You are right. I'm going to give serious thought to starting a novel. I now you will be an ally. But please don't mention it to the others -- my sister Masha, or my friends when they arrive. They'll only badger me, in their way.
I was impressed that the author has written novels on Amelia Earhart and a romance inspired by Darwin, and is also a literary translator, the translator of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, one of my favorite books. I find her writing elegant. I hope to finish The Summer Guest this summer!
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