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The Book of Happiness

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  242 ratings  ·  20 reviews
An outstanding novel about a young Russian woman's life in exile after the Russian Revolution. The Book of Happiness is one of the outstanding novels the great Russian writer Nina Berberova wrote during the years she lived in Paris, and the most autobiographical. "All Berberova's characters live raw, unfurnished lives, in poverty, on the edge of cities, with little sense o ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 17th 2002 by New Directions (first published 1936)
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3.52  · 
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 ·  242 ratings  ·  20 reviews

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Sep 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, fiction
I liked it. Unfortunately by the time I got used to its rhythm, it ended. The part that speaks about Sankt Petersburg is very warm and white, the part that describes Paris reminded me of "Bleu", Kieslowski’s film – the young alienated woman etc.
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Versão portuguesa, "O Livro da Felicidade". Editora Ambar, tradução de António Pescada.
"- Você compreende quando se diz que a felicidade é como o ar, que não se sente?
- Não. Acho que não.
- E eu também não. Penso que se me acontecesse uma felicidade, a sentiria constantemente, e havia de querer senti-la. Nunca aceitaria habituar-me a ela.
- E já lhe aconteceu?
- Claro que não.
- Eu sinto por vezes a felicidade como uma asfixia. Mas o maior segredo... O maior segredo é compreender que eu sou a única
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Love and its demands, and its ever changing face at different times in our lives, is the theme of Nina Berberova’s novel The Book of Happiness. Berberova’s novel is set in the early part of the Twentieth Century, a time that has seen Love subjected to the historical — and human individual crushing -- forces of war, politics, and revolution. However, Berberova is willing to see Love’s possibilities -- as long as Love is stripped free of illusion. For Love to exist, it must maintain a balance bet ...more
Paula Koneazny
Jul 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Paula Koneazny by: Steve Harris
The Book of Happiness, although apparently written in the 1990s, at the end of Berberova’s long life, reads like a modernist novel of the early 20th century. (Both Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson come to mind). This despite the author’s own references to Russian writers such as Tolstoy, Pushkin, and Garshin as well as to Jules Verne. The Book of Happiness is divided into three sections each of which is an account (although not in any reportorial sense) of a love affair/ relationship. Three ...more
Torea Frey
Jan 09, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is quite a lovely little thing. And the following caught my eye:

They had come out of the post office. Karelov licked a corner of the envelope and stuck the stamp on. She was dumbstruck. She had always been uncertain whether to wet her finger or take the gluey stamp in her mouth. And suddenly it all turned out to be so simple: you just had to lick the envelope. She stood there with her mouth open and watched him drop the letter in the mailbox.

Okay, so this is moot now that (a) no one se
An intriguing life story of a woman who, like Berberova, saw St Petersburg, Paris and Nice. The storytelling is soft and sensitive, mainly composed of Vera's rememberings in the first two parts after she learns of her childhood's friend untimely death, and a third part in the present. There is something about Vera, though you do not notice straight away, she is an innocent and rather immature character, who easily gets disoriented and carried away, and because her sense of sympathy is so great, ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
The Book of Happiness? More like the book of crap. The timeline made no sense. The characters were vague and confusing. I'm told by a reviewer that this story is supposed to be about the perseverance of happiness. Okay. So Russia falls, Vera marries a man she doesn't love who treats her like crap and then dies. She lets her widowed sister-in-law walk all over her, her childhood friend commits suicide, and then she "finds happiness" with a married man, which is just fine because his wife is menta ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Nah, nada remarcable. Por lo menos no lo abandoné.

Lo cogí porque era una escritora rusa medianamente contempóranea (características totalmente ausentes de mis escritores hasta la fecha) pero no salió buena. Tiene algunos destellos chéveres sobre su adolescencia en San Petesburgo durante los años Soviéticos pero son muy poco del libro para mejorarle todo.

Lo que menos me gustó fue el final rosa absoluto. Odio cuando las historias terminan en que las mujeres finalmente encuentran la felicidad enamo
Nicholas Lee
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
"The Book of Happiness" is about the young life of a Russian woman named Vera who after receiving news of the suicide of her only childhood friend Sam, attends. She is unhappily married to someone she cannot love and is desperate to make sense of the her feelings of detachment from a stunted childhood. This is Vera's journey - told in 3 parts with a series of short chapters - where she pursues happiness, determined to burst forth from the unfulfilled past through life, love, and liberty.

*** SPOI
Oct 16, 2013 rated it liked it
The Book of Happiness by Nina Berberova

Perhaps the reason I did not like this book is that the book starts with a suicide and with my new “philosophy” I try to be positive. But it may not be that at all, I simply did not feel the “FLOW” (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). For some time now, I’ve become picky, fussy or just difficult with books. Especially since this book was not recommended to me by any list of best 100 books, friend or site. In the last ten years I have tried to concentrate on and read
Dec 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
found this on the table at the strand. hooked by the opening, mesmerized by the rest. the story of a russian ex-pat and the three loves of her life: 1) a childhood neighbor in st. petersberg; 2) a sickly man with whom she moves to paris; 3) another russian ex-pat in paris. told in a simple, intense, musical, oblique, emotionally impressionistic voice. kind of reminded me of a cross between ondaatje, james salter, chekhov and tatiana tolstoya. there's a beautiful passage near the end of the novel ...more
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have no problem reviewing older books with good reputations with the enthusiasm of a new mother, because a lot of them just get taken for granted for being wonderful.

The Book of Happiness is closely related to Berberova's three great love affairs, and set in Russia and Paris around WWI. Her sense of humor is so natural, so unpredictable, the smallest interaction feels like the kind of flirtation that would make you fall straight in love with a person. She writes like someone who knows how to
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
[Y]ou simply have no inkling of how to live any other way. Others will come later, after you, and they will have a completely new way of feeling. Which means there is no experience. Each person starts all over from the beginning.
Miriam Cihodariu
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russia
If I had to describe the book in a nutshell, I'd say it's about a life-long coming of age as a woman, and about the subtle struggle of learning to be gradually more and more comfortable in your own skin. All set in beautiful Russia, so that's a pet peeve which also contributed to me liking it.
Beth Ohrenschall
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written in an easy to read style.
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-serbian-et-al
Zaista mala knjizica o sreci.
Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fictiune
Cum poate o persoana sa traiasca dupa ce a pierdut oameni esentiali ai vietii ei. Si cum poate sa traiasca bazandu-se pe constructia afectiva pe care ea a operat-o in viata.
Jul 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite authors.
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Nina Nikolayevna Berberova was a Russian writer who chronicled the lives of Russian exiles in Paris in her short stories and novels. She visited post-Soviet Russia and died in Philadelphia.

Born in 1901 to an Armenian father and a Russian mother, Nina Berberova was brought up in St Petersburg.[1] She left Russia in 1922 with poet Vladislav Khodasevich (who died in 1939). The couple lived in several