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The Summer Guest

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  626 ratings  ·  159 reviews
“The blind doctor, Zinaida Lintvaryova, stays in my heart long after I close Alison Anderson’s beautifully written book. The young Chekhov himself cannot outshine Zinaida as she urgently explores life, science, art, family, and love, her passion defying death.”
— Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

“In an enchanting era-spanning
Hardcover, 385 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Harper
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  626 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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Angela M
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4+ stars . Edited 5/26 to include a link to an article in the author's website which has wonderful images and a note on her writing of this wonderful novel .
Review :
I should say at the beginning that I knew very little about Anton Chekhov, other than he was a Russian playwright and short story writer and I would be hard pressed to name something he'd written, other than The Cherry Orchard or The Three Sisters, neither of which I've seen or read . I didn't
Diane S ☔
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another one I had put down at one point, but after reading Angela's review, picked it back up. Another advantage to reading friends review, Chrissie's this time too, I knew what and what not to expect. Chekov of course being the draw for this one, I knew not to expect much in the way of information about him, though there was some. But, I came to love the three women's stories in their own right, three different threads, different time periods. Three woman who used Chekov, though only one knew h ...more
(Nearly 4.5) Presuming this was a debut – I’d not heard of Anderson, though she’s a respected translator from the French and has two other historical novels to her name – I had low expectations and was pleasantly surprised to find an elegantly plotted story about writing, translation, illness, and making the most of life. In short, this is the book that Rachel Cantor’s Good on Paper was billed to be, but where that was a sore disappointment this one is a treasure.

The kernel of the novel is a t
This is a book composed of three threads, three stories about three different women, set in two different time periods and three places – Ukraine, London and provincial France. One woman is a publisher (Katya Kendall), one the translator of diaries to be published (Ana Harding) and finally the author of the diaries (Zinaida Mikhailovna Lintvaryova). Over the summers of 1888 and 1889 the Chekhov family stayed at the dacha on the Lintvaryova estate. In her diaries Zinaida writes of those summers, ...more
Was that not the beauty of fiction, that it aimed closer at the bitter heart of truth than any biography could, that it could search out the spirit of those who may or may not have lived, and tell their story not as it had unfolded, as a series of objective feats recorded by an indifferent word, but as they had lived it and above all, felt it? Was there a finer way to honor friendship, and love, and being in the world?"

Nothing compares to brilliantly penned literature. It's one thing to be amus
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Anton Pavlovich Chekhov we meet within Alison Anderson’s pages is more than one of the greatest writers of short fiction in history. He’s a real charmer: right at the cusp of being recognizes for his immense talent, a self-effacing, gentle and confident young man who charms three sisters at a family estate – including the blind older Zinaida.

Anton Pavlovich (as he is referred to often in this book) once famously said, “Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress.” In this, he ha
Paula Cappa
Jun 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Great summertime read if you love historical fiction. And if you are a Chekhovian reader. Beautifully written with evocative and vivid descriptions. I really enjoyed this enchanting escape. The middle of the book gets tedious and sinks somewhat, but the momentum of this very talented writer carries you through. Alison Anderson is surely a brilliant and ambitious writer. But I have to say, honestly, the ending was a disappointment. The buildup of the friendship between Anton Chekhov and the blind ...more
I really like this book but I am listening to it as opposed to reading it. I prefer books like this in print version so I will order the paperback/hardback and return the audio as I am finding it difficult to concentrate and follow and I really want to enjoy this book. I do believe some books just don't come across well on audio and for me this in one of them. So will await my print copy :-)
switterbug (Betsey)
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Three women’s lives intersect, bridging the past and the present, crossing the borders of time. One woman is long deceased, but what she left behind could alter the destiny of the other two. Katya Kendall, a Russian émigré married to a Brit, is trying to save her small, financially troubled publishing house, as well as a static marriage. She’s contacted Ana Harding, a reclusive American translator, living in France (on the border of Switzerland), to translate a century- old Ukrainian diary into ...more
Heather Fineisen
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog-tour, tlc-tours
This book made me want to read more about Anton Chekov and more by him. But this book is really about the women in the story from past and present time and their connection. The voyeur in me enjoyed the diary of Zinaida the best but all three women have compelling personal stories. This is a bit of mystery based on a true story. I do recommend this especially for lovers of historical fiction.

Provided by publisher and TLC Book Tours
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
this was a 3.5 read for me
thoughts coming shortly
Bob H
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a luminous, well-written, well-plotted novel to immerse a reader in time and place. The core story is a diary begun in 1888, by Zinaida Lintvaryova, whose family estate in eastern Ukraine is a summer vacation spot for the Chekhov family, notably Anton Chekhov, just on the cusp of fame for his plays and short stories. Zinaida is an intriguing personality, whose sensitivity, love of life and intelligence shines through her diary; a doctor like Anton, but blind because of an advancing illne ...more
Gail Richmond
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I began this book three times, and it was only after reading reviews and researching the background of the real events on which the novel is based that I finally progressed solidly into the novel. Each time I began, I read a little further into the text, and it was the diary section that tripped me up. Yet, because it was in diary format, I finally had to accept that short phrases and poorly punctuated sentences were okay; it was as if the writer were speaking to the page.

Sections of the novel d
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Anton Chekhov was what led me to read this book, since I really like his stories and plays. ["The Bishop" is my favorite story.] This is not so much Chekhov's story, as that of three women and how he has touched their lives. The first is Zinaida Mikhailovna, one daughter of a gentry family, at whose dacha the author and his family stayed for two summers--1888 and 1889. This fact is historically true; we know this from Chekhov's own letters. The second is Katya Kendall; she and her husband run a ...more
Sarah Beth
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received an advance reader's edition of this novel from HarperCollins.

Beginning in 1888, over the course of two summers, Ukrainian doctor Zinaida Lintvaryova befriends Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, who lives on her family's rural estate both summers. Zinaida is suffering from a fatal illness, which has left her blind and increasingly debilitated, yet able to record her experiences in a diary. Chekhov is on the verge of a brilliant writing career: "These were his last weeks of relative anonymity, o
J. Else
Ukraine, late 1880s: Zinaida Lintvaryova is an educated woman planning to live her life helping others as a country doctor, but at 30 years old, she loses her sight from a brain tumor. To help fill her time, Zinaida begins a diary. Her family retreats to their country estate and, to help with household expenses, rents out their guest house over the summer. A family from Moscow comes to stay, and their son is growing in fame as a writer: Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Through Zinaida’s writing, the lif ...more
Mellie Antoinette
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Sometimes I suffocate within these pages. The darkness seems to spill out of the ink and then engulf them, as if all I am writing is a great swathe black."
Apr 10, 2016 rated it liked it
4 stars to the writing, 2 stars to the plot.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would rate this 4 1/2 stars. This was a most intriguing book about author and playwright, Anton Chekhov. I had heard his name in the world of Russian literature, but had not read anything by him. This is historical fiction based on letters and diaries and lots of research by the author. The premiss is that a translator, who lives in France, is asked to translate a diary which was written by a female Russian physician who lived in the 1880s in Ukraine, and who's family offered their summer gues ...more
Carolyn Mck
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is not quite a four star book for me but there it has enough things going for it to warrant a strong review. It purports to be a book about Anton Chekov who is the summer guest of the title - staying with the Lintvaryova family in Ukraine. This much is factual and the writer has also used Chekov's letters and a visit to Ukraine to inform her fictional world.

However, Chekov remains an enigmatic character, with the main interest lying in the story of the narrator, Zinaida Lintvaryova - a you
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I was eager to read this novel, the story of a blind female doctor, a member of the family with whom the Chekhovs spent two summers. It's written in the form of Zenaida Mikhailovna's diary and recounts the friendship formed between the two doctors, she and Anton Chekhov, also known for his short stories and plays. Initially, I got caught up in it, but eventually I found the conversations and musings rather cl0ying and, well, just plain dull. How many descriptions of picnics and walks along the r ...more
Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful story of a deep friendship (through a diary) between Zinaida Mikhailovna Lintvaryova and Anton Chekhov which takes place in the late 19th Century in the Ukraine. Since Zinaida is going blind, (due to a brain tumor) it reflects both the
frustration of losing her sight and the sixth sense that blind people develop. Since both are doctors, there is much to reflect upon in the seen and unseen world. Lots of family members interact with them. Also includes stories in the present day with
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Už dlouho jsem nečetla tak nádhernou knihu. I když v ní osud rozdává tvrdé rány, příběh je to jemný, plný pravd, všedních věcí, knih a místy i lehkého filozofování. Autorka spojila několik prvků dohromady a tyto prvky skládají skvělý rámec pro příběh v době Čechova, ale také v době nynější.
Tato kniha se opravdu povedla, autorce se povedlo vytvořit fikci ve fikci a to na základě skutečných postav. Tak ráda bych si představovala, že se alespoň něco přesně takhle stalo..
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. I long for a place like Luka in both look and feel. My heart stays with Zinaida.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such an unexpected joy. The prose was beautiful yet quiet.
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, giveaways
Wonderful, elegantly-written, exquisite book!

It's three stories braided into one. Now, doing two stories simultaneously can be a real challenge and few writers, IMO, can pull it off. But Anderson intertwines THREE stories...

The first concerns a publisher, Katya, whose company is failing, unable to keep up with changing times - and changing political climates. (Her best-sellers are travel books for countries in Eastern Europe, including Russia and the Ukraine. No further explanation is needed her
Nancy Freund
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was rapt. Every page. It's three stories in one -- at least three -- and all three had me hooked. There's Ana Harding, the newly divorced, slightly-free-slightly-shell-shocked literary translator of Russian and French to English living in a quaint French village. There's Katya and Peter Kendall, who run a failing London publishing house specializing in the dwindling Russian guidebook market, and there's the central star of the novel, Zinaida Mikhailovna Lintvaryova, whose near-death diaries ha ...more
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I began reading The Summer Guest with very little knowledge of Anton Chekhov. Ivanov was assigned reading in college, so I knew that he was a celebrated playwright and story story author. That, however, was the extent to which I was aware of Chekhov's background. I'll admit, that's one of the reasons why I accepted this book for review. I'm always fascinated by historical fiction that adapts the lives of artistic people. That line between fact and fiction blurs beautifully, and I hoped that Alis ...more
Robert Blumenthal
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an historical novel that is as good as it gets in that genre. It is the story of a diary written by a young woman, dying of a brain tumor, who lives in a small town in the Ukraine. Her family rents a house on their land to the Chekov family, and she starts up a deep friendship with the famous author Anton. Because of her tumor, she is totally blind. But she still has a lot of life to live, and Anton becomes both her "eyes" and her gateway to her deepest feelings. In addition, there is me ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 May 27, 2017 08:55AM  
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Alison Anderson spent many years in California; she now lives in a Swiss village and works as a literary translator. Her translations include Europa Editions’ The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and works by Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio. She has also written two previous novels and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Translation Fellowship. She has lived ...more
“To be dissatisfied in the present moment—what a torment that must be, constantly pursuing one with doubt and disappointment. I” 0 likes
“There’s something to be said for naïveté. Up to a point in life, anyway. When did you lose it, do you suppose—was it a person or an event?” 0 likes
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