Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Love, 39/100

The novella First Love was my introduction to Ivan Turgenev, having never read much from the Russian Greats.

As the title suggests, the story is about love. First love! And all the heartbreak, silliness, and tragedy that comes with it. The protagonist, 16-year old Vladimir Petrovich, falls in love with his slightly older neighbor, who in true 19th century fashion is being courted by like ten other guys. Like all teenagers frustrated and in love, he becomes jealous and angsty, even to the point where he hides in a garden at midnight, planning to stab a mystery rival. Which sounds serious, but was actually pretty hilarious. When he finds out who has stolen the heart of sweet Zinaida, it's a huge surprise (well, for him -- the reader can figure it out fairly easily a few pages in).

This is the first novella I've read that I really wish was a full-length novel. As a 124 page read it works, but it seems like so much is missing. A lot of questions left unanswered and perspectives unexplored. What was the point of having Zinaida be from a "disgraced" royal lineage? Why/how did she fall in the love with...the person she fell in love with? And he with her? This wasn't like Mathilda, which I can't even fathom as a full-length tome (can you imagine how many more times we'd have to read the word despair? Alas!). Even though I now know the story, if First Love was lengthened into a 300+ novel I would absolutely read it.

You can buy the novella from Melville House, or read it for free here.


  1. Hi Jessica,

    Congratulations! We have selected you as today's winner for the Art of the Novella Challenge. Please send your mailing address to to receive your prize. Thanks for participating!

    Melville House

  2. Feel free to delete this message, but I figured this would be the easiest location to say happy birthday.

    So... happy birthday!

  3. Happy birthday to you as well, guy! We're getting old!

  4. Yes, we are getting old. Alas...

    Actually, not 'alas'. That word would make it seem like I care, and I don't!

    I feel like I should read some of these novellas! Most of the books on my bedroom floor are about psychoanalysis...

    Because I read about it here, however, I did read "The Hunger Games". I liked that a lot. The friend who let me borrow it said that after reading the second one she had no desire to read the third. That's an unfortunate way for a series to go, but... that's writing for youngsters, I suppose!

  5. Oh good, I'm glad you liked The Hunger Games. But I have to agree with your friend on skipping the two sequels. Like with the Matrix, you just want to forget anything happened after the first one.

    I'm glad you don't care about getting older! That's a healthy outlook. I do care for some reason, and it's way too early to be worrying about that sort of thing.