Classic Literature / Fiction (107 pgs.)
When the down-at-heel Princess Zasyekin moves next door to the country estate of Vladimir Petrovich's parents, he instantly and overwhelmingly falls in love with his neighbor's daughter, Zinaida. But the capricious young woman already has many admirers and, as she plays her suitors against each other, Vladimir's unrequited youthful passion soon turns to torment and despair - although he remains unaware of his true rival for Zinaida's affections. Set in the world of nineteenth-century Russia's fading aristocracy, Turgenev's story depicts a boy's growth of knowledge and mastery over his own heart as he awakens to the complex nature of adult love.
First Love by Ivan Turgenev details the story of Vladimir Petrovich, Russian schoolboy who falls helplessly in love with his neighbor's daughter Zinaida, despite competition from many older suitors. I first discovered this book after watching the move "Lover's Prayer," which is based on this book. I'm so glad that I found this novella... I discovered a hidden gem.
Turgenevs' prose is lilting and intoxicating. Throughout this short read, I felt as if I should have been reading this book lying in a field wildflowers or something. I know it sounds goofy, but it's true. The pages of this novella are simply bursting with feeling, which is exactly what our young protagonist is doing. One of my favorite quotes:
"Oh, gentle feelings, soft sounds, the goodness and the gradual stilling of a soul that has been moved; the melting happiness of the first tender, touching joys of love - where are you? Where are you?"
Because this book is written about a sixteen-year-old boy's First Love, it's practically raw emotion, all the time. When Vladimir's heart aches for the lovely Zinaida, you can feel it. You can feel his despair when SPOILER he finds out that the one Zinaida truly loves is his own father. END SPOILER You can clearly sense his undying devotion to his love.
Speaking of our protagonist, Vladimir stole my heart. SO incredibly romantic... and so devoted, undyingly. He would do anything for his love. Call me what you will (love-sick fool!), but I'd take Vladimir anyday.
The scenery is breathtaking. I have NEVER wanted to visit Russia, but this book made me want visit Russia and to stroll aimlessly through the Russian countryside. Prefferably with Mr. Vladimir. ; )
Don't be discouraged by the fact that this book was written in 1860. It is simply written and easily understandable. And it is truly a beautiful read.
Watch the trailer for Lover's Prayer here (but read the book before you watch the movie!):