Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Soothing Balm of Elegance

It was with infinite pleasure that I read this.  It was the soothing balm of elegance.  The nasty taste left in my brain was purged (after reading Lolita) and filled my heart to bursting with the joys of Russian and French literature.  Every chapter was a joy to read and contemplate. 
I haven't read a lot of French authors, they have mostly been limited to Dumas, Voltaire and Hugo... I haven't built up the courage yet to give Proust a try but after reading this I really wanted to (even the Moliere and the Rabelais that has been living at the bottom of my book basket for a few years). 
There are two protagonists in this story one of which loves her literature, in particular Tolstoy (a love which we share), so I feel like I really 'got' her (you don't know how lonely it can be when no-one you  know likes the books that you like).  I have been a huge fan of Tolstoy since I read War and Peace when I was fifteen, and Anna Karenin when I was twenty.  The book quotes from Karenin  quite a bit, and I was just tickled pink with each reference.  It made me just want to stop what I was doing and grab my own copy and read it again... right now!
Enter protagonist number two who was surprisingly astute and relevant.    Add in another new character , with a different culture, and the magic that happens with this third person, the pleasure in seeing everything evolve the way it did was precious (but I can't say anything more without giving away spoilers and we don't want that!)  It was more than just a fusion of culture, but of like-minded people, making an important connection that transcends, race, age and sex.  This combination of French, Russian and Japanese culture was exciting and refreshing, and I feel truly lucky to have this book.  I look forward to re-reading it again at some point, perhaps after I have read some of the literature mentioned to see how it would alter my experience.

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