Find today’s 35,540 word novella here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/177.html
This is a long story. Through 17 chapters this downbeat low-key drama takes place over the course of three years, but it felt like ten or more. There are many good moments as the story tracks the marriage of wealthy merchant heir to a girl he’d seen at a church in small town where his sister is fighting against cancer. Essentially this novella is about mismatched people and things out of sync. Laptev is in infatuated with Yulia and proposes, although she doesn’t love him. His best friend Kostya is never satisfied jumping fad to fad. Fyodor helps his father run the family business, but he’d rather be in politics or writing philosophical papers. Polina is unattractive, yet fascinating to Laptev and later Yartsev. She still has feelings for Laptev, but he doesn’t for her until the roles reverse. Nina fights cancer and dies when she feels better. The merchant father who terrorized Laptev as a child and only cares about business loses his eyesight and is unable to work – his only true love. I could go on with more examples. There are good moments and the description of the business and how cruelty that breeds cruelty is fascinating, but the story overall is too long and dreary for it remain memorable. I enjoyed the two chapters featuring Polina because she is a spinning tornado of wild emotion that had the potential to shake up the quiet, overly contemplative and morose Laptev. In the end when Laptev visits his wife and “She had told him she loved him, and he could only feel as though he had been married to her for ten years, and that he was hungry for his lunch” I felt the same for the story as he did for Yulia. .