Today’s story concerns an unhappily married couple celebrating the husband’s names day party. The point of view is from the exhausted, pregnant wife who internally fumes at her husband while trying to maintain a cheerful, happy demeanor. There are probably dozens of reasons for it, but I found this one of Chekhov’s most engaging and moving stories. The majority of this long story takes place between afternoon and evening, and in some ways it reminded me of Merchant Ivory films
. Olga has married Pytor, an ambitious man with an oversized personality. I could picture an Errol Flynn
imitator attracting women with arrogant bravado and loud proclamations. The man is under a great deal of pressure and has been making enemies with his antics by taking extreme conservative positions. What Chekhov does a wonderful job of showing Olga’s mixture of jealousy, wrath and love. Her emotions are so strong because she still loves the man while she abhors him and sees his weakness.