Carole's Reviews > The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year

The Last Station by Jay Parini
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Mar 01, 10

Read from February 25 to 28, 2010

The book is narrated by each of the people closest to Tolstoy in his final year, by alternating chapters.

Sofya Andreyevna - his wife for nearly 50 years - to me had the loudest voice. She was an extremely complex character and not someone that I liked at all. She was paranoid, neurotic and extremely jealous of all the people surrounding Tolstoy. She was constantly trying to find out what he'd written about her; she wanted to read his diaries and letters. They even sent letters to each other, even while living in the same house!

I learnt so much about Tolstoy while reading this novel, he was such a revered man in Russia, very much like a celebrity of today, people hung on his every word. Indeed, his own physician, Dr Makovitsky, used to write down nearly everything Tolstoy said, even in front of him, which he didn't seem to mind, he was a very patient man.

Jay Parini's writing was never boring, and due to the many varied voices including his wife, daughter, physician and secretary all seeing him in a different way, I felt, by the end of the book, as if I got to know the many sides of Leo Tolstoy's character which made the story all the more fascinating, and sad. Tolstoy comes across as a humble man, tormented by his wealth and feeling guilty by living in a big house and wanting to be free; to live like a peasant; and to be free of his jealous wife; but never doing anything about it until his last days.

The book is based on the many diaries written by him and the people who surrounded him, and is definitely one that I will remember.
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Jokull Torfason I just have to say one thing about this review!
Tolstoy showed Sofya his diaries when they got married and through their marriage the read each others diaries. They had a very understanding and lovable relationship which was full of love and understanding. In the last years of Tolstoy he stopped showing her his diaries and stopped talking as much to his wive about is business. This of course took a toll on Sofya and ended like you saw in the book... with her loosing it!
If you think about it you would probably do the same if you where in her shoe! After 40 years of knowing everything there is about your husband and then all out of sudden you're kept out of everything!
I really feel sorry for Sofya and think that she should get more credit for her life work then she does... she was a loving wive and mother of 10 children! And her concerns were if her children would live a reasonable life... something Tolstoy didn't have to worry about... If you have money, you don't see the need for it :/


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