The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Final Year

by Jay Parini | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9781841959672 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingcanongatebookswing on 11/2/2007
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
8 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingcanongatebookswing on Friday, November 02, 2007

Journal Entry 2 by Rivercassini from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Friday, November 02, 2007
What a treat! This, so generously sent by Canongate Books, was waiting for me when I got home from work this evening. Straight to the top of Mount TBR (although as I've just started Pickwick Papers, it might take a few days to get to it).

Journal Entry 3 by Rivercassini from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, November 10, 2007
Its 1910 and Leo Tolstoy, Russia’s greatest novelist is both a cult figure among his countrymen and an old man. Written with style and compassion, The Last Station is a semi-fictionalised account of the last year of his life and the dysfunctional and damaging relationships between him, his followers and his family. The main narrative centres on the struggle for Tolstoy’s affections, soul and legacy between, chiefly, his deranged wife and his self-seeking and scheming acolyte, Chertkov.

The entire novel is told through five voices – a device which takes a little getting used to but is ultimately very rewarding as it provides insight into the minds and motivations of those who surround, nay smother, Tolstoy.

Intense and compelling, The Last Station reads like fiction even though it isn’t, but it is also enlightening and troubling. While Parini has drawn his chief characters finely, there is scarcely one with whom the reader feels any sympathy. Tolstoy’s daughter Sasha is perhaps the most likeable among the motley crew but even she turns out to the self-serving. Initially, the reader is tempted to feel sorry for Tolstoy himself but it rapidly becomes apparent that he too is as much responsible for the scheming and selfishness that surrounds him in his final months.

This is a remarkable book, a remarkable achievement and well worth reading but it comes with a health warning too to those who have not read Tolstoy previously: you will want to by the time you have finished this.

I'm going to open this book as a ring: see journal entry below.

Update: Okay, I blame Canongate for this, but I've just bought copies of Anna Karennia and War and Peace! When am I ever going to get such mammoth works read?

Journal Entry 4 by Rivercassini from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, November 10, 2007
I'm opening this book up as a book ring (i.e. I want it back at the end of its travels). If you would like to join, please send me a PM with your name and country of where you live. Please also say if are not prepared to post internationally - otherwise I will assume that you can.(I'll try to order the list so that postage costs are kept to a minimum).

Some brief "rules"
* Journal the book when you receive it.
* PM the next person on the list for their address when you receive it so as to try to avoid hold-ups later on.
* If you don't hear from the next participant within a few days, PM them again. If after a few more days you still haven't heard from them, PM me to let me know, and move on to the next person on the list.
* Read (and hopefully enjoy!) Don't feel pressurised to read it in a rush (and remember that life gets in the way sometimes for all of us!) but if you need to keep hold of the book for longer than say six weeks or a couple of months, please journal to let us know.
* Journal again when you've read it to let us know what you think of it!
* Surface/economy mail is fine, but please make a note in a journal entry so the person you're sending to has a rough idea of when to expect it.


PinkyDinky (UK, prefers UK/EU)
CaterinaAnna (UK, anywhere)
Kerriou (UK, prefers UK/EU)
Soleille (Germany, anywhere)
Iojima (France, anywhere)
Playtheman (Australia, no preference given)

Journal Entry 5 by Rivercassini at Royal Mail in By Post, a postal release -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, November 22, 2007

Released 11 yrs ago (11/22/2007 UTC) at Royal Mail in By Post, a postal release -- Controlled Releases



On its way to PinkyDinky

Journal Entry 6 by pinkydinky on Friday, November 23, 2007
Rec'd today. I just finished a book so I will start this today. Thanks Rivercassini.

Journal Entry 7 by pinkydinky on Tuesday, December 04, 2007
This book was fascinating. A household you would not want to be part of! I agree with Rivercassini about the characters. There is not one that you sympathise with throughtout the whole book. However,there are times when you sympathise with some of them. A well written book about a complicated set of people in an equally complicated situation.

Have details for CaterinaAnna. May be end of week before I can post it on as my little boy has got chicken pox.

Posted 15/12

Journal Entry 8 by Caterinaanna from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Arrived at work on the last day of term and straight onto the top of Mount Toobie.

Journal Entry 9 by Caterinaanna from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Friday, January 04, 2008
I knew Tolstoy was popular in his time, but until I read this book, I had no idea he was such an inspiration, nor did I have much idea of his politics in spite of having read both Anna Karenina and War & Peace. (Don't worry Rivercassini, once you start them you'll get through them no problem.)

I agree with the previous reviewers that it was easy to dislike everyone in the book, but I was able to find some sympathy for most of them. The one exception was Chertkov, maybe because he was the one major character who was never, as far as I remember, given the chance to tell a part of the story himself. While I didn't agree with or like the actions of the others, I felt I could at least understand their motivations, why each of them thought they were doing the right thing, and that made it easier to accept their actions. However there was nothing to make me think of Chertkov as anything but a cynical glory-seeker.

On my to-be-read-one-day are some of Tolstoy's more philosophical writings, as my quote to remember from this book is: God is not love, but the more love there is in man, the more is God made manifest in him, and the more truly does he exist.

I finished this book yesterday in, of all places, the very city where kerriou lives. Had I only been organised and sent the 'your turn' PM as the end of the book drew near I could have saved the postage!

Released 11 yrs ago (1/7/2008 UTC) at Bookring in to another bookcrosser, By Post -- Controlled Releases



Put in the post-box on my way home from work.

Journal Entry 11 by Kerriou from Swansea, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Arrived safely this morning. Thank you CaterinaAnna.
Great timing as I finished a book last night and was trying to decide what to read next. Problem solved.

Journal Entry 12 by Kerriou from Swansea, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, January 14, 2008
A very interesting book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I liked the way the story was told through letters and journal entries.
I sympathised mostly with Sofya Andreyevna who, despite being despised by all the other characters, continued to fight for her childrens' inheritance. She also wasn't afraid to voice a few home truths when her husband was surrounded by his sychophants and hangers-on.

Thank you for sharing Rivercassini.

Posted off to Soleille this morning.

Journal Entry 13 by soleille from Leipzig, Sachsen Germany on Friday, January 18, 2008
The second Canongate book I got this week- looking forward to the read, thanks to all involved in getting the book here!

Journal Entry 14 by soleille from Leipzig, Sachsen Germany on Sunday, February 03, 2008
A fascinating read! I'm usually not fond of stories told by different persons, most of them seem fractured somehow, but Parini did a great job of not tangling the thread of the story itself by this- it moved forward naturally with every new viewpoint.

As with most 19th century authors, while I might admire their works, I'm grateful to not have to be around them as persons- Tolstoy was a totally offputting character even though I found compassion for the old man. The character I most related to was Sofya - I think being surrounded by the people she was and with a position in society that did not allow her to just get the h*** out of there, it's not surprising that she turned a bit crazy- and she was not even paranoid, in those assumptions she was proven totally right...

A great book even though one I would not have been looking for without the Canongate offer, so I'm especially grateful for this discovery.

Have PMed the next "station" so this can move along again.

Journal Entry 15 by soleille from Leipzig, Sachsen Germany on Friday, April 04, 2008
It's now on its way to the NEXT station :O)

Journal Entry 16 by Iojima from Nyons, Rhône-Alpes France on Thursday, April 10, 2008
Received today,thank you,and starting right away.

Journal Entry 17 by Iojima from Nyons, Rhône-Alpes France on Sunday, April 13, 2008
I give this high marks because it is so well written, but I think it is probably more interesting if you didn't know much about Tolstoy before reading it. Still, it was a quick read with wonderfully drawn characters. Next stop: Playtheman.

Journal Entry 18 by playtheman from Rangeville, Queensland Australia on Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The Last Station has arrived safely from France. Why haven't the others posted journal entries here?
Am I the only one? as Noel Coward said looking around the room filled with men in bow ties and he in a lounge suit.
Thanks Margot for the photograph of the French countryside with a sandy creek meandering through the farms.

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.