Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book # 2 - A Russian love story

My second book for the 15/15/15 reading project was Ivan Turgenev's novella, 'First Love'.

Initially, I was slightly disappointed after reading the novella. Although the name reeked of a love story, I wasn't expecting it to be so predictable. The blurb promised a story of a young boy who awakens to the complex nature of adult love. There was a young boy in the story who did fall in love with a girl a few years older than him. But this is not just a tale of unrequited love. It is a story of a love unfulfilled which became a torture for both the lover and the beloved. Zinaida, the heroine of the book, was everyone's beloved( she had many admirers which included our young 16 year old protagonist who is also narrating the story) but she only loved one. And the one she loved was the one she could not have.

There are some books which leave you with mixed feelings. This was one of them. As with most Russian authors, there was much hidden meaning in this simple novella. Although 'First Love' appears to be, on the surface, another love story; it is not. There are many things going on in this novella; love, jealousy, insecurity, competition, face saving, sacrifice and death. All in just 100 pages.

An easy read but one which did leave a deep impression. Somehow all Russian authors do that.