I have been lucky with my reading lately. March was a slow reading month for me but since Easter I have had much more reading time and my last few reads have also all been really good. During April I have moved from WW2 France with Flight to Arras (by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) to Latvia during Soviet time with Soviet Milk (Nora Ikstena) and now, latest, to 19th century Russia with The Boarding-School Girl by Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaya (translation Karen Rosneck).
I discovered The Boarding-School Girl when I, unsuccessfully, looked for other translated works by one of her sister, Sofia Khvoshchinskaya, the writer of City Folk and Country Folk. The Boarding-School Girl is largely focused on the disillusioned and exiled Veretitsyn and his largely accidental influence on his young neighbour Lolenka. Exposed to Veretitsyn’s bitter musings Lolenka starts to question the shallow education she is getting and the confined life she is living. Partly a comedy of manner, partly a coming-of-age story the novel gives an interesting glimpse into the life and education of 19th century women from the lower gentry.
It is a very short novel, the actual story took only 137 pages in the edition I was reading, and the plot was relatively simple. The character’s on the other hand were well-developed and realistic. A sharp but subtle wit runs through the novel, it may even have a bit more edge than her sister’s novel. If you enjoy Jane Austen writing style you would probably like this one too although the stories told are very different.
Overall it had a surprisingly modern feel, also compared to City Folk and Country Folk. The edition I was reading also included an extensive introduction and a generous number of footnotes which helped me appreciate the novel even more.
I count The Boarding-School Girl as my Classic in translation for the Back to the classics reading challenge.