The discovered diary of Zinaida Lintvaryova is something of a godsend and revelation for two very different women. For Katya Kendall, it could mean saving the publishing company she and her husband have struggled to keep afloat for so many years. For Ana Harding, the translator hired to rework the journal, it means the possible discovery of a long lost novel by one of literature's greats.
Zinaida, a blind doctor living in Luka, meets young Anton Chekhov when his family rents her family's summer house in 1888. They form a close friendship, one that Zinaida chronicles in her diary as the days go by. And, as their friendship grows, so does the the mention, the promise, of a novel Chekhov may have penned at Zinaida's suggestion.
The Summer Guest was, as the author states on her blog, a quiet novel. One that will appeal most to literature fans and readers who enjoy books about books. I mean, what could be more appealing than a book about the rumor of another lost book? A book about a publisher, a translator (the author knows this part of the industry well!), and a famous literary figure all linked through the words and thoughts of a woman lost to history?
It's a slow burn of a read, one that does require quite a bit of attention and concentration (not something you'll be able to zip through in one sitting), but one that is ultimately rewarding. The culmination of the tale, one I won't spoil, was particularly fun. And the fact that the story itself - the diary, that is - is based on very real people makes it that much more appealing.
Zinaida was real. Chekhov did spend time on the Luka estate. There's even a museum dedicated to Chekhov on the old grounds. The story is fiction, but is, as was the author's goal, a fitting and respectful tribute to Chekhov.
And if, like me, you know very little about Chekhov, that's ok. Again, this is really a book about friendship and the love of books and literature.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Alison Anderson you can visit her website here.
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