Novellas in November 2022: recap

Novellas in November 2022

Picking from my 4th list of books for The Classic Club, my plan was to read 8 novellas this month for the Novellas in November event.

I managed to read them all, but have been bad at posting reviews recently.
I did post a short review for these three (click on the cover), the three reviews are on the same post:

  The Lady Macbeth of MtsenskThe Lifted Veil  The Snow Goose 2

The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, by Nikolai Leskov (1865)
The Lifted Veil by George Eliot (1859)
The Snow Goose, by Paul Gallico (1951)

And here are now a few words on the 5 other novellas I have read.
I may end up writing more and more super short “reviews” of that type. Would you still be interested in this blog if I did?
Click to continue reading

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: Star


by Yukio Mishima
First published as スタア in 1961
Translated from the Japanese
by Sam Bett

New Directions
96 pages
Literary fiction / Novella

Star is a very interesting portrait of Rikio, a young movie star.
It gets even richer when you realize Yukio Mishima wrote this novella shortly after acting himself in “Afraid to Die”, where he played the role of a yakuza, just like Rikio in the movie he is working on. It makes for an interesting parallel with his own life – including its end.

Click to continue reading