In the middle of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, there comes a multi-chapter section that is somewhat ebullient in comparison to the rest of the epic novel. By no means a completely constant tale of misfortune, War and Peace is also not bursting with positive energy. The Rostovs’ evening spent playing mummers stands out for the effusive communal energy that, unlike in other scenes where Natasha bursts to light, is not only consumed by but also exudes from others. The scene begins in Book 2, Part 4, Chapter 10, when a group of costumed house-serfs arrive at the house, “bringing in with them the cold and a feeling of gaiety” (560.) Inspired, “the young people”—Nikolai, Sonya, Natasha, Petya—join in (560).
I recently scarfed down Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, which, with the October release of the final installment in the four book series, had reviewers singing their praises yet again for Ferrante’s work.
Dogs. I see them all the time. AND I LOVE EACH ONE. Yet, I cannot have them. Their owners would probably not treat me nicely if I stole their pet. Then there’s the issue of actually taking care of the dog. Instead, I can only admire from afar.
Step 1: Seeing the furry creature of your dreams
Step 2: Realizing this dog is incredible and you need it in your life
Despite dragging in the middle, Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778) ended as a playful read with a bevy of twists that would surprise a modern reader.
“Are women people yet?” Kate Bolick writes at the end of Spinster: Making A Life Of One’s Own. This question is not one that drives the text, but a striking one that it arrives at and that lingers after the book is closed.
For most of Spinster, Bolick weaves together her discovery of five women writers and how her initial connection with them, then a re-examined one, changed her outlook on marriage, relationships, and selfhood. Bolick sets up her cultural and personal history by approaching the term “spinster” and her “spinster wish,” a not uncommon desire for self-sufficiency and success.