Book reviews: Novellas by Leskov, Eliot, and Gallico

Novellas in November 2022

As I am working on my 4th list of books for The Classic Club, I decided to focus on classics for the Novellas in November event, not just this week, but for the whole month.

This week, I finished three, in this order:

The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk


The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, by Nikolai Leskov
Translated by
Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
So not the edition shown on this book cover
Originally published in Russian in 1865
Literary fiction / Novella
44 pages

Read for The 1929 Club

Leskov is an amazing narrator.
I had only read On the Edge of the World by him, and this novella made me realize more how talented he is in his descriptions of people.

The story begins thus,

“In our parts such characters sometimes turn up that, however many years ago you met them, you can never recall them without an inner trembling.”

And the reason of this “inner trembling” is Katerina Lvovna Izmailova, aka The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, possibly the first serial killer in Russian literature.

Bored after she was married to Zinovy, a widower twice her age, Katerina gets interested in the steward Sergei. Sergei decides to add her to his collection of women he has seduced, but he has no clue what he’s getting into with the fierce Katerina…

I can’t reveal much more without spoiling it all.
I was amazed how Leskov managed to portray this woman and her milieu in so few pages. We do have lots of details on the living conditions of small Russian merchants and their household at the time.

And obviously, with the reference to Shakespeare’s work, it is a terrifying tale on the effects of passion – and it also includes hallucinations. Though her acts are motivated by greed for love, and not greed for power.
Definitely not a woman and a novella you can easily forget! With a terrible and powerful ending as well!
I read it in the edition of The Enchanted Wanderer, and I really want to read the 16 other novellas included in the volume
Click to continue reading

Book review: The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner
Published in 1929
366 pages
Literary fiction


Read for The 1929 Club

So far, I had only read As I Lay Dying, by Faulkner, which I really enjoyed, but never dared to go further. One reason was a person who used to be in our book club and would heavily criticize The Sound and the Fury. But I was curious and finally decided to read it for The 1929 Club .And I am sure glad I did! Click to continue reading

Book review: Ensemble, c’est tout

Ensemble, c'est tout

Ensemble, c’est tout
by Anna Gavalda
Published in 2004
574 pages
Literary fiction
Published as Hunting and Gathering
in 2007

I read French Leave by Anna Gavalda in 2011. I liked it, but was not super impressed. But something (or someone??) told me to try another book, and I must have found Ensemble, c’est tout at a second-hand book sale – not easy to find these in French around Chicago! Click to continue reading