Spending time on the Russian countryside

Rural Russian orthodox church

The best thing about reading book blogs are all the great books you get exposed to. I could still have been completely oblivious to the existence of the excellent novel City folk and country folk if it weren’t for Kaggsy’s blog post about it and now when I’ve read it I just want to spread the word further.

City folk and country folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya (translation by Nora Seligman Favorov) is a comedy of manner with sharp observations and wit not dissimilar to a Jane Austen novel. Of course comparing it to a Jane Austen novel sets the bar impossibly high, it is very good but it doesn’t have the tight writing of an Austen novel. What it offers instead is insight into the lives of Russian rural gentry, observations on the social changes that occurred in Russia during the 1860s and a plot which I wasn’t sure where it would take me. It was a perfect novel to ease myself back into my classics reading again. Unfortunately this novel seems to be the only text from the author that has been translated into English but one of her sisters, Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaya, has a translated novel, The Boarding-School Girl, which I now long to read.

You should read this novel if you

  • want to read a 19th century Russian classics but want to avoid the thicker or more tragic novels,
  • love Jane Austen’s novels (just don’t expect it to actually be a Jane Austen novel), or
  • if you just like the thought of reading a little known but excellent Russian 19th century author.

(Personally I’m guilty of all three)

I found some interesting and more in-depth reviews of this book here, here and here, although they, especially the two later, do give out a bit of the plot so if you want to avoid that they may be best read after the novel.

I’m counting this one as my 19th century classic for the Back to the classics reading challenge. There’s still time, until March 1st, to sign up to this challenge if you are interested.


20 thoughts on “Spending time on the Russian countryside

    1. Then this one may definitely be a good option, I found it to be a rather quick read and very enjoyable. If you like short stories Pushkin may also be an option. His short stories are really good and often with a reasonably happy ending.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This post has not only given me a new Russian book rec, but has introduced me to a new blog AND a new challenge which coincides nicely with one I am already doing. This post was gold for me 💕
    I’m already doing a 5 year Classics book club challenge and this challenge you shared will help me solidify which ones I will be reading this year. I’ve also been loving Russian literature and I’m so happy you shared a book by a lesser known author than Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. Thanks for sharing ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m very glad you enjoyed the post! I’m also doing the Classics Club reading challenge but have found that the Back to the classics reading challenge gives me an excuse to discuss the classics I read that were not on my original Classics Club list. So they work very well together (and many books of course count for both). Reading everyone’s reviews in the challenge has also been a great way to discover new books and book blogs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh! Thank you for this post! I’ll definitely be checking out this book, as I love Austen, and other authors within that genre. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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