Synopses & Reviews
At the center of this chronicle of Russian provincial life in the reign of Catherine the Great stands the patriarchal figure of the author's grandfather, Stepan Mikhailovich. A man of great natural dignity, imbued with respect for tradition and love of the land, he is also despotic and virtually illiterate. Into the family comes his son's new wife, a spirited, intelligent girl from the town. Her eyes see a different world--one tainted by grossness, cruelty, and squalor--and she suffers from the hostility of jealous sisters-in-law and the shortcomings of a husband whom she loves but cannot respect. Her relationship with Stepan Mikhailovich is the heart of a story in which Aksakov celebrates the old feudal way of life without concealing its darker, repressive side.