January 24th, 2011


The Kreutzer Sonata, by Leo Tolstoy

One-line summary: A 50-page abstinence rant in the form of a story about a jealous man who kills his wife.

Tolstoy would hate this cover

Published in 1889 (in Russian). Available for free at Project Gutenberg.

When Marshal of the Nobility Pozdnyshev suspects his wife of having an affair with her music partner, his jealousy consumes him and drives him to murder. Controversial upon publication in 1890, The Kreutzer Sonata illuminates Tolstoy’s then-feverish Christian ideals, his conflicts with lust and the hypocrisies of nineteenth-century marriage, and his thinking on the role of art and music in society.

Crossposted to bookish and books1001.

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Verdict: It's probably not fair to judge Tolstoy's writing from this plea for Christian ascetiscm which he wrote later in life. In terms of communicating his views, he does this in exquisite, articulate fashion, but even if you agree with his views (and even among Christians, there aren't many who will), The Kreutzer Sonata is not so much a story as a polemic. It's not meant to be entertaining, so the only literary merits I can grant it are that by the end, we have a very, very clear picture of Posdnicheff, his wife, and their marriage. And Tolstoy's issues. Read it if you want to know why Tolstoy and his wife had such a crappy marriage; read Anna Karenina or War and Peace if you want to find out why he's regarded as a great writer.

This was my third selection for the books1001 challenge, introducing people to writers they've never read and books they've always known they should read but haven't. Please join us!
abby, mcgee

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis

Pages: 308 pages
Genre: Fiction

Premise by Chapters:

The last thing Melanie expected to lose when she went on a diet was her husband.

Former lawyer Melanie Hoffman lost half her body weight and opened a gourmet take-out cafA(c) specializing in healthy and delicious food. Then her husband left her-for a woman twice her size. Immediately afterwards, she's blindsided by a financial crisis. Melanie reaches out to a quirky roommate with a ton of baggage and becomes involved in a budding romance with a local documentary filmmaker.

In this warm and often laugh-out-loud novel, Melanie discovers that she still has a lot to learn about her friends, her relationships with men, and herself-and that her weight loss was just the beginning of an amazing journey that will transform her life from the inside out.

My Thoughts:

(Very-- very mild spoiler.)

  • quippe

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Blurb On The Back:

Cassie’s body was found in a motel room.

She called Lia 33 times before she died.

Lia never picked up.

Now the voice in Lia’s head tells her to stay strong. Keep control. Lose more. Weigh less.

Thin. Thinner. Thinnest.

Maybe she can make herself disappear altogether.

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The Verdict:

Laurie Halse Anderson’s YA novel about anorexia is a modern classic. It’s a powerful and unflinching read that at times is very hard to read and it looks at the disease from every angle, never forcing conclusions. Special mention should be made of the clever use that Anderson makes of the text itself and its formatting to get the story across as it never feels gimmicky and really helps get inside the main character’s head. In short it’s one of the best YA novels I’ve read in a long time and I have no hesitation in recommending it to teens and grown ups alike.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the free copy of this book.

Cross-posted to books, bookworming, cool_teen_reads and yalitlovers.