Family Happiness – Leo Tolstoy

family happinessAt first, when I accepted the Summer is Short, Read A Story Reading Challenge from Harper Collins, I had heard of Tolstoy, but never had an opportunity to read his work until now. Now that I have read a few of his short stories, I feel shameful that I haven’t read this fabulous author before.  Where have I been ??

In short (no pun intended), I was blown completely away with his ability to engage you in the story, the way it flowed, the descripitve narratives he uses to describe the scene.  It wasn’t and shouldn’t in any way be compared to today’s literature.  It is THAT GOOD.

In these three stories, you have three different sets of characters, all in different situations, based in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s.

In the first, Family Happiness (written in 1859), Tolstoy tells about the life of a couple who have known each other for quite a long time before marrying.  Him being stubborn thinking he will never marry, because he will never find his true mate, she is the daughter of his close family friend, who has been granted guardianship of her and her sisters in rural Russia after their mother dies.

The 2nd story, Master and Man (written in 1895), tells the tale of a master and servant.  One is hurrying to get to the next town to buy a parcel of land, the servant would like to be on his own and have his own business, so is saving to buy a small property.  On the way to this town close to where they live they encounter a wild and turbulent snowstorm.  When they reach a small village, they are told by friends that they should spend the night, because of the storm, but warm up instead and go on their way.

The third and final story, Alyosha The Pot (written in 1905), tells the story of Alyoshia, a poor and unsightly boy who has been sent to a store owners home to be their servant.  Not finishing school, like his older siblings, he goes and is the best servant he can be, which to his employers is a blessing.  But when he wants to marry the cook, he is forbidden to do so, because they value him more as a commodity then he would be if he was married and make the cook pregnant.

All of these stories were so well written and filled with emotions and feeling, I kept thinking this man had a true gift of storytelling, and wondered if he had used actual events from his life, or was it thought of carefully and meticiously over time.  I was so entranced by his work, that it was so hard to stay away from the book for any given time.  It would eye me from the table from which it was laying upon, almost taunting me to open the book and adore and become more and more entranced as the stories came to an end.

This is the 2nd book I have read for the Summer is Short, Read a Story Challenge.

History and a Bit about Tolstoy

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